The chief of police in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, has been placed on administrative leave as his department investigates the dramatic murder of a young teacher — who was the subject of an unauthorized departmental leak just months before she was gunned down in her mother’s driveway.
KDKA News reports that Aliquippa Police Chief Don Couch was abruptly placed on leave Wednesday night during an Aliquippa City Council meeting. Sources told the news station that Couch gave up his gun and his badge after he walked out of the meeting, followed by uniformed police officers.
The specific reason for the administration decision if not yet known, but reports indicate Couch was placed on leave for reasons having to do with an ongoing investigation into the Aliquippa Police Department that began in November, after a police source allegedly leaked a police report to local newspaper The Beaver Countian.
The police report documents a February 2016 incident in which police officers found Rachael DelTondo, a teacher at Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, in a parked car with a 17-year-old male student, who attended another high school. As CrimeOnline previously reported, DelTondo, 33, and the student, since identified as Sheldon Jeter, both said they were just talking and DelTondo was not charged with any wrongdoing.
After the Beaver Countain published the report, DelTondo was suspended from her teaching position. She maintained a friendship, which was reportedly romantic at times, with both Sheldon Jeter, now 20, and his older half-brother Tyrie Jeter. Tryie and DelTondo’s friend Lauren Watkins were with the murdered teacher the night she died, and Lauren had just dropped her off before witnesses reported hearing gunshots.
Lauren Watkins is the daughter of Aliquippa police Sgt. Kenneth Watkins, who reportedly appeared at the crime scene the night of the murder, although he was off-duty. Sgt. Watkins has been placed on paid leave because of his connection to the investigation.
Late last month, an internal memo within the department obtained by the Beaver Countain showed that police leadership was unhappy with Sgt. Watkins’ actions on the night of DelTondo’s murder, and Chief Couch is believed to have been seeking disciplinary action against him.
Police have not yet named any suspects in DelTondo’s murder.