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District Attorney Names Pennsylvania Teacher's Former Student as Prime Suspect in Murder
Rachael DelTondo had lost her job as a teacher after reports emerged that she had an inappropriate relationship with the student, Sheldon Jeter.
The Beaver County District Attorney's Office is asking the public for help in solving the murder of Rachael DelTondo, a 33-year-old Pennsylvania teacher who was shot dead in her driveway on Mother's Day of 2018.
District Attorney David Lozier recently told reporters that DelTondo's former student Sheldon Jeter is the prime suspect in her murder, but noted that the case is not prosecutable due to a lack of evidence, according to ABC affiliate WTAE. It's been alleged that Jeter and DelTondo had been engaged in an on and off again sexual relationship, which resulted in DelTondo's employment being suspended from the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in 2017, according to WTAE.
Lozier said that police have uncovered evidence that Jeter, a former high school football star, was stalking DelTondo on the day of her murder, but they're unable to place him at her parents' Aliquippa, Pennsylvania driveway, where she was shot multiple times.
"I can't put him in the driveway beyond a reasonable doubt. Somebody out there knows something. Somebody knows something to affirm what happened," Lozier said, according to KDKA-TV.
Lozier told reporters that search warrants will be executed in the near future and a reward for information is in the works, saying that his office hopes to bring closure to DelTondo's family five years after losing their daughter, WTAE reported.
DelTondo's family, however, has since released a statement, writing that this announcement was "a cheap, underhanded, pitiful, political stunt pulled by Mr. Lozier in an effort to boost his campaign for reelection which will occur in approximately two and one half months, at the expense of our dead daughter and us," according to WPXI.
"After five years of producing nothing, he is fearful that his ineptness as a DA is showing through and that the announcement was made to deflect his poor effort to bring justice to our daughter. Shame on him," the victim's family continued.
Jeter's lawyer, Michael Santicola, told WTAE that his client has long been aware that he is a suspect and similarly questioned the timing of the announcement.
Jeter is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after being convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 30-year-old Tyric Pugh, Jeter's friend and roommate who was fatally shot seven times on May 15, 2020. Investigators later found the murder weapon under Jeter's bed, according to the Beaver County Times.
Immediately after Jeter's conviction, his defense filed an appeal citing the fact that a juror in the Pugh murder trial had multiple conflicts of interest. During the jury selection, the juror reportedly failed to disclose that she lived next door to the DelTondo family in 2018, and was divorcing one of Jeter's relatives.
"The defense didn't want a juror like this on this case, the commonwealth didn't want a juror like this on this case... but, unfortunately, it happened,” Santicola said, according to the Beaver County Times. “And it is extraordinary that this person made it on the jury.”
An appeal hearing is pending.