The Aliquippa police officer who has been placed on leave due to his connection to the murder investigation of a young teacher is also connected to a scandal involving the teacher in 2016.
The Beaver Countian reports that Sgt. Kenneth Watkins, whose teen daughter drove Rachael Deltondo home on May 13 just moments before the 33-year-old knockout was shot dead in her family’s driveway, was among the two Aliquippa police officers who found DelTondo in a steamed-up car with a 17-year-old boy in February 2016, just a week before DelTondo ended her engagement to local entrepreneur Frank Catroppa.
The police did not find any evidence of wrongdoing, and no charges were filed. Though both DelTondo and the then-17-year-old Sheldon Jeter, Jr. both said they were just talking, DelTondo reportedly asked the officers not to tell her fiance, a prominent member of the Rust Belt community, about finding her in the car with the boy.
It is not known if or how Catroppa learned about the incident before the couple ended their engagement on February 14.
A police report about the incident was not created until over a year later, and someone believed to be from inside the police department leaked the report to multiple media outlets, DelTondo’s personal friends, and the school that employed her. She was subsequently suspended from her teaching position.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Sgt. Watkins was off-duty the night of the murder, but appeared at the scene very shortly after the fatal shooting. Watkins was placed on paid leave because of his daughter’s close involvement, but was additionally criticized by his superiors for allegedly being uncooperative with on-duty officers and potentially contaminating the crime scene.
Police have not named any suspects in the investigation, but have interviewed several people and obtained phone records and/or social media account information from Jeter, Sgt. Watkins’s daughter, and his wife. Also in the car that night was Sheldon Jeter’s older brother, Tyrie Jeter.
Sheldon Jeter, Jr. is believed to have been a major focus of the investigation thus far. But earlier this week, the Beaver Countian and the Daily Mail revealed that a person claiming to be a witness to the murder wrote a letter to an inmate at the Beaver County Jail revealing what they saw. Jeter’s attorney told a local news station on Wednesday that the letter takes the focus off his client, a claim corroborated to CrimeOnline by an additional source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Gazette reported that Aliquippa’s acting police chief has recused the department from DelTondo’s murder investigation, a decision that the victim’s mother had publicly called for in recent weeks.
“I made that decision yesterday. I just think it’s the best move right now,” acting chief Robert Sealock told the newspaper.