Man questioned in Pa. teacher’s death convicted of friend’s murder
▶ Watch Video: Sneak peek: Who Killed Rachael DelTondo?
It’s been over three-and-a-half years since Rachael DelTondo, a well-liked teacher in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, was gunned down outside her home — and there is still no arrest in the case.
There were initially several leads to follow, including the actions of an Aliquippa High School athlete named Sheldon Jeter. The night of DelTondo’s murder, texts suggest that Jeter may have been trying to track her movements.
“He was obsessed with her,” Rachael’s mother Lisa DelTondo told “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty.
Sheldon Jeter’s lawyer says his client had nothing to do with Rachael DelTondo’s murder. “There’s no evidence there that ties him to the crime,” Michael Santicola says.
Then this past summer, Jeter was convicted of killing a different friend after a trip to get ice cream. With his arrest and conviction in that case, attention has again been drawn to the unsolved murder of DelTondo.
“The investigation right now is active. My detectives, my prosecutors – are working continuously,” Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier tells Moriarty.
“Do you believe that someone will be arrested in this case?” Moriarty asks.
“I think we’ll have answers,” Lozier says.
MOTHER’S DAY 2018
The night Rachael DelTondo was gunned down at the foot of her parent’s driveway, there were already eight unsolved murders in the city of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.
Erin Moriarty: The Aliquippa Police Department has gone through … years of upheaval. … Is it in any better shape today than it was when Rachael DelTondo was murdered?
John Paul: It’s just a different kind of bad.
John Paul is an investigative journalist and a CBS News consultant. He grew up near Aliquippa and has seen its decline. A small city outside of Pittsburgh, Aliquippa was once was home to big steel, big money and big NFL stars, who came up through the renowned high school football program. But the city has struggled to fund a proper police force with officers reportedly working as many as four back-to-back shifts — that’s a 32-hour day.
John Paul: The same sort of problems continue. You’ve got a department that’s underfunded in a city that is underfunded. … We’re onto chief number … four since Rachael had been murdered.
And Paul says Aliquippa’s problems run deeper than anyone guessed.
Not long after Rachael DelTondo was shot, Moriarty spoke with her parents, Lisa and Joe.
Lisa DelTondo was extremely close with her 33-year-old daughter who was still living at home.
Lisa DelTondo: She’d come in every night, sit at my bed and give me … a synopsis of the whole day.
That Sunday night, May 13, 2018, there would be no bedside report. After supper, Rachael went for ice cream with friends. And then just minutes after being dropped back home around 10:45 p.m., Rachael was shot several times at close range.
John Paul: The information I have from law enforcement … is that …They do believe she knew her killer. … they believe it to be a crime of passion.
That’s probably why Rachael’s former fiancé, Frank Catroppa was one of the first people questioned by police.
Erin Moriarty: Frank, I’m gonna ask you directly: did you have anything to do with the death Rachael DelTondo?
Frank Catroppa: Absolutely not. … I’ve known her since we were kids.
When as adults they started dating, they became Aliquippa’s “it” couple. Catroppa, the son of a retired police officer, was building an empire in trucking, cable and energy — so successful that a local online magazine dubbed him “The Wolf of Aliquippa.” Rachael was the teacher with a soft heart, who liked to help troubled students.
Erin Moriarty: And at first were you happy with the relationship?
Lisa DelTondo: Yes. Uh-huh. Frankie was generous.
Erin Moriarty: What drew you to her?
Frank Catroppa: Obviously she’s a pretty girl. She’s nice, genuine — big hearted. She was a good girl.
Erin Moriarty: Were you in love with Rachael?
Frank Catroppa: Yeah, at one time I was, absolutely.
Jen Glovan: They had good times and they had bad times.
Jen Glovan says she and Rachael were once “best friends.”
Jen Glovan: When they … were together and happy on a Tuesday, they could have been broken up and miserable by Sunday. (laughs) I mean … it went back and forth a lot.
That went on for several years says Jen, with Rachael wanting stability and Frank resisting.
Jen Glovan: She wanted to get married … and she wanted to have kids. … and she’s … gettin’ a little frustrated, like, “when am I gonna get this ring on my finger?”
And Glovan says Rachael was not leaving her parent’s house without a commitment from Catroppa.
Jen Glovan: I asked her, y’know, “why didn’t you wanna move out?” And she said, “I’m Italian and usually they stay at home until they get married and I don’t want to disappoint my dad.”
Erin Moriarty: Was she pushing you to get married?
Frank Catroppa: Yeah. She — she gave me about three deadlines.
But it seems that Rachael wasn’t acting on her own.
Lisa DelTondo: Maybe we were pushing her. … Like, “you’ve been dating this kid five years.” Come on. It don’t take five years.
But it did take five years.
Frank Catroppa: Yeah, so we went to Paris. We got engaged in — in Paris.
Lisa DelTondo: She was excited. When she called me, I don’t know if it was because she was marrying him or because of the ring — it was a six-carat oval. It was beautiful.
Wedding plans commenced immediately, and Catroppa asked for a prenuptial agreement.
Jen Glovan: I said, … ‘how do you feel about that?” She’s like, “I’m fine with it. I’ll — I’ll sign it. … I don’t want him to think that … I … want him just for his money.
But in the end, Rachael refused.
Frank Catroppa: It wasn’t Rachael, I don’t believe, that didn’t want to sign it; her mother didn’t want her to sign it.
Lisa DelTondo: I didn’t want her to sign a prenup, any prenup.
Frank Catroppa: That’s when the wedding planning stopped and — we were still together, but we weren’t I guess engaged any — anymore so that created some friction.
Frank Catroppa: I don’t think some of her family wanted her to still talk to me … But she still did. And she still came around. … So, she started to not tell people that she was talking to me. … So, it was like it became common for her to, like, almost mislead or lie.
Catroppa says the more he pulled away, the more jealous Rachael became. On Super Bowl weekend 2016, Frank was at the game with some buddies, and they weren’t alone.
Frank Catroppa: There were some girls on the trip. And — and Rachael was upset about that. And—
Erin Moriarty: Well, ’cause you were still dating her.
Frank Catroppa: Yeah, we were still dating. It’s, you know, one of those awkward situations.
Not long after that weekend, Catroppa says Rachael became paranoid and told him there were people “bothering her …”
Erin Moriarty: Who were those people bothering her?
Frank Catroppa: She would never really give names … But she would always just, you know, lump in the — the police department.
It turns out that Rachael had at least one good reason to be nervous — a secret that only a few people knew. Jen Glovan was one of them.
Jen Glovan: She grabbed my hand and she just said, (crying) “… please just don’t tell anybody this. You have to promise me, promise me, promise me.”
A SECRET REVEALED
It had been a little over 10 months since Rachael DelTondo and Frank Catroppa called off their engagement, but the final chapter of their relationship was still being written.
Erin Moriarty: Was Frank actually interested in being with Rachael at that point?
Jen Glovan: Yeah … I think that they still were on and off … they were still just doing what they were always doing.
Every year, Catroppa throws himself a big birthday party at a bar in downtown Aliquippa. In December 2016, Rachael was there to help celebrate. Jen Glovan and her boyfriend Matt Mottes hadn’t seen Rachael in months. Both say she didn’t seem herself — that she was drawn and jumpy. Glovan confronted her friend.
Jen Glovan: And I just said, “Rachael,” I said, “I just feel like something’s wrong … I don’t know what it is, but you’re doing something that’s just not good (crying) and I’m worried about you.” … And … she got very angry at me … And — she was just like … nothing’s wrong with me … we both stood up and we were … in each other’s, you know, faces at that ppoint. And — she just kind of, you know, swung at me.
Erin Moriarty: She swung at you?
Jen Glovan: Yeah. … She had hit me in the face.
Glovan says she was stunned and furious. When Catroppa ran over to see what happened, she retaliated and broke a promise, revealing that secret Rachael had begged her to keep.
Jen Glovan: I just broke down in tears and I said, “Please ask her. Ask her what she was doing in the car … with some kid at night.” And I told him (crying).
What Glovan told Catroppa is that nearly a year earlier — on the same weekend when he was away with other women at the Super Bowl — Rachael had done something that had put her job and her relationship with Frank at risk. Glovan recalls Rachael coming to her that Super Bowl weekend in tears.
Jen Glovan: She was bawling, hysterically crying, you know, shaking.
Glovan says Rachael told her that there was an incident, involving her and then 17-year-old Aliquippa High School football star, Sheldon Jeter.
Rachael first met Jeter years earlier, when she worked as a substitute teacher at his elementary school. The two had recently reconnected.
Jen Glovan: She told me (sigh) that … at, like, 11, 12 o’clock at night. … he was — messaging her on Facebook and … said he needed someone to talk to. So, Rachael said,” OK I’ll, I’ll come meet you.”
Jen Glovan: They were in the parking lot at Circle K, and he had gotten into her car and he was on the passenger side. And they were just talking. … And then she said that a police officer pulled up … and just wanted to check on them … and she said … “everything’s fine, Officer. We’re just talking” … and that was it.
Jen Glovan: And I just said … “you’re my best friend.” And I said … “I’m gonna ask you two — two questions.” And I said, “Please don’t lie to me.” (crying) … I said … were you doing drugs with this kid in the car?” … and she said … “No, no, no, I wasn’t doing anything like that.” … And I said, “OK, I believe you.” And I said, “The second question is, were you doing something with him, sexually? …Are you cheating on Frankie?” She said, “No.”
Erin Moriarty: Did you believe her?
Jen Glovan: I told her that I believed her, but, like, in my gut and in my heart (crying) I knew she was lying.
But Rachael insisted the encounter was innocent. She was just trying to help a teenager in need, she told Catroppa. And he says he believed her.
Jen Glovan: Rachael basically told Frankie that … myself and Matt, we — were spreading rumors about her, saying that she’s on drugs and saying that she’s, you know, sleeping around with people around town. … And after that night, Frankie and Rachael did not speak to us for an entire year.
Catroppa stood by Rachael, but about a year later, he would decide he needed to know more about what happened between Rachael and Sheldon Jeter.
THE CYBER BLAST
After Frank Catroppa’s birthday party, it’s now early 2017, he and his former fiancée Rachael DelTondo were quietly spending time together again. But the wedding was still off. Catroppa says that as time passed, he became increasingly bothered by Rachael’s story, about her encounter with 17-year-old Sheldon Jeter. So, he went to the Aliquippa Police Department…and asked Assistant Police Chief Joe Perciavalle if there was an incident report.
Asst. Chief Joe Perciavalle: He told me she was tryin’ to get back with him. And he just wanted to know if it was true ’cause he don’t wanna look stupid.
Reports like this are not immediately available to the public. A formal request is required to obtain a copy. So, Percivalle says he first refused to give it to Catroppa.
Asst. Chief Joe Perciavalle: I told the chief I didn’t feel comfortable givin’ it to him. And the chief told me, “give it to him.” … He’s like, why not? It’s Frankie.” … Him and — Chief Couch was good friends I guess.
Don Couch contradicts that. He says his relationship with Catroppa is purely professional. He insists he told Perciavalle that Frank could see the report, but only after proper procedure was followed. Whatever the truth, Catroppa read that report that day, and it didn’t quite match the story that Rachael had told him.
Frank Catroppa: I was kinda just — just shocked.
According to the report it was nearly 2 a.m. when Rachael and Jeter were discovered in her car — not 11 p.m. as Rachael had said, and not at the Circle K, but in an abandoned lot.
Erin Moriarty: You obviously come here not to be seen. Is that fair?
John Paul: You come here to not be seen. … The police said the windows were steamed, which made them believe the vehicle had been parked for some time. And the passenger seat was fully reclined.
The report states that Rachael told police that Jeter was “once a student of hers,” and now a “friend,” and they were just talking. But it also says she “didn’t want her fiancé to know, because he would get mad.”
Erin Moriarty: And he — was upset about it?
Asst. Chief Joe Perciavalle: He was upset. … When he was about to leave, his eyes were watery.
Frank Catroppa: I …was more confused than anything.
Erin Moriarty: Angry?
Frank Catroppa: Um, I wouldn’t say that I was angry.
Catroppa was allowed to take home that copy of the report, and not long after, someone used it to strike a devastating blow at Rachael DelTondo’s reputation.
Lisa DelTondo: That was the most negative —
Joe DelTondo: Nasty.
Lisa DelTondo: — nasty thing that could’ve happened to her.
Someone anonymously emailed and texted the incident report to Rachael’s school, the local school board, the media and the mayor. Even Jen Glovan got it.
Jen Glovan: And I just sat there, and I read it and I was like, “Oh, my God.” … I wasn’t gonna text back and be like, “Who’s this?”
Erin Moriarty: But who did send it to you? Do you know?
Jen Glovan: I do not know, no. I have no idea.
It’s unknown whether authorities ever traced the source of the anonymous e-mails and text messages, but Lisa and Joe DelTondo say they have no doubt who sent out the damaging information.
Lisa DelTondo: Frank Catroppa.
Joe DelTondo: He tried to ruin my daughter and my family. He was jealous.
Frank Catroppa: Yeah. No. It – it — it wasn’t — it wasn’t me.
Erin Moriarty: And it’s just a coincidence … just days after you got it, it went out to everybody?
Frank Catroppa: Yeah … I never you know … denied— receiving it from that day. And I also did, you know, show — um other folks, and asked questions to the people that were close to her. “Is this true?” you know … “what do you know about this?”
Erin Moriarty: So, you showed it to a lot of people?
Frank Catroppa: I did show it to people, yeah.
Erin Moriarty: But it’s just a coincidence, though, that, right after you get it, it’s suddenly made public.
Frank Catroppa: Yeah, that’s— I was thinking the same thing.
But Catroppa wasn’t just given the report; he was handed a folder that also contained paperwork with sensitive personal information, like Social Security and driver’s license numbers. Information that should never be shared with the public. All that was also released in the cyber blast.
Erin Moriarty: As you sit here, do you believe that Frank Catroppa had to have at least been involved? He might not have been the one who actually —
Joe Perciavalle: Sent it out. But he gave it to somebody.
Days after the report’s release, Rachael was suspended from her job.
Lisa DelTondo: She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t eat. She had to go to a doctor.
Erin Moriarty: Wasn’t she even hospitalized a little bit?
Lisa DelTondo: Yes.
Erin Moriarty: Tell me about that …
Joe DelTondo: Psych ward.
Erin Moriarty: Seriously?
Lisa DelTondo: She was in a psych ward for three days.
Joe DelTondo: Three days.
Joe and Lisa DelTondo insist their daughter did nothing wrong.
Lisa DelTondo: She was trying to help this poor kid.
Through his attorney Michael Santicola, Sheldon Jeter says that Rachael was never his teacher, but according to him, their relationship was much more than a friendship.
Michael Santicola: it didn’t start in the car … they had a relationship going on for quite some time.
Michael Moreland: He was a star. He was a athlete. And most girls or women love athletes.
Jeter’s uncle Michael Moreland says he knew his nephew was seeing someone.
Michael Moreland: But I didn’t know it was her.
He says he began to suspect that Jeter was involved with an older woman when the young athlete started receiving expensive gifts.
Michael Moreland: Christmas time … three years ago …he had a nice, expensive watch. And I asked him where he got the watch from. He said a girl that I’m talking to.
But even if true, the age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16.
Michael Santicola: She was engaged at the time she was having a relationship with — with Sheldon. So … They’d see each other when they could.
Erin Moriarty: But you know that Rachael’s mother disputes that completely.
Michael Santicola: I’m sure. I’m sure. … The fact that she didn’t tell her mother that she was having a relationship with a 17-year-old boy doesn’t surprise me.
Erin Moriarty: Kids — don’t always talk to their parents about their sex lives. So, I mean it’s possible –
Lisa DelTondo: You wanna bet?
Erin Moriarty: Rachael told you everything?
Lisa DelTondo: Rachael told me a lot.
Lisa DelTondo, who insists that Jeter mistook Rachael’s kindness as romantic love. Says he became obsessed with her daughter.
Lisa DelTondo: … He came here one night drunk.
Erin Moriarty: How did you know he was drunk?
Lisa DelTondo: Because I watched him leave as I pointed an air pistol at him—
Joe DelTondo: But he – he —
Lisa DelTondo: — from the window.
Joe DelTondo: — pounding on the window. He was pounding—
Lisa DelTondo: Every window in the house, he pounded on.
Through his attorney, Jeter denies the incident, but Lisa DelTondo stands by her account. After the release of the report, Rachael was finally finished with Frank. But Lisa DelTondo wasn’t.
LISA DELTONDO [voicemail]: Hi Mr. Paul, my name is Lisa DelTondo …
Lisa DelTondo called John Paul, who runs an online news service called “The Beaver-Countian,” and said her daughter had damaging information about Frank Catroppa and claims of corruption in the Aliquippa Police Department.
LISA DELTONDO [voicemail]: Spend some time in Aliquippa and you’ll be able to write a best-seller.
Erin Moriarty: At some point then did you start talking to Rachael?
John Paul: Yeah. Rachael was reluctant at first. … she started getting death threats … she feared for her life.
CLAIMS OF CRIME AND CORRUPTION
By December 2017, Rachael DelTondo was jobless and humiliated, she had cut all ties with her ex-fiance Frank Catroppa and distanced herself from Sheldon Jeter. Rachael had become socially isolated.
Lisa: Frankie made people take sides, so her friends had all, like, kinda went away.
Lisa DelTondo, infuriated at what had been done to her daughter, decided to take things into her own hands, and turned to the media.
LISA DELTONDO [voicemail]: Hi Mr. Paul, this is Lisa DelTondo …
John Paul: Her mother had called our tip line … and she wanted to tell me what she believed to be the real story of Aliquippa, and those were stories of crime and corruption.
Lisa DelTondo put Rachael in touch with John Paul – and while the two never met in person, he says he spoke to Rachael several times – and she claimed to have information about city officials.
John Paul: Rachael described a city that was rotten to its core.
A city where, she said, officials were being paid to turn a blind eye to illegal behavior, but John Paul says Rachael offered no proof.
John Paul: I am not able to independently verify the things that I have heard, that’s not the type of thing that I can report yet.
Rachael also told Paul that she had received death threats – including a text that said she wouldn’t live to see the end of 2018 — and she feared she was being followed by the Aliquippa Police.
Jackie Belcastro is Rachael’s aunt.
Jackie Belcastro: I know my Rachael was afraid of them.
Erin Moriarty: What would she tell you?
Jackie Belcastro: That the Aliquippa police were stalking her
Belcastro’s theory was that Frank Catroppa had something to do with it.
Erin Moriarty: At any point did you have Rachael followed? Did you follow Rachael?
Frank Catroppa: No. That’s ridiculous … It’s just Rachael. Like, she says things and they’re not exactly true. … Maybe just tryin’ to discredit me.
Rachael told Paul, as well as family and friends, that in late 2017, she began speaking to the Pennsylvania State Police, about what “48 Hours” has confirmed to be an ongoing investigation into possible corruption in the City of Aliquippa, its police department and Frank Catroppa’s business dealings.
John Paul: She told me that they were asking her questions about Frank. … And she told me that she didn’t tell them a lot, but she knew she was, at some point, going to have to tell them more.
Frank Catroppa: I don’t know what she could possibly tell them. / 11:50:00 How could I do corruption? I’m not a city official. I’m not a government official. Um, I’m not a police officer.
John Paul: If the things that she said proved true, they would be problematic for him. … That all being said … I continue to believe that what led to her death was the choices she made in her personal life.
As winter turned into spring of 2018, Rachael DelTondo was trying hard to put her fears behind her. She was spending time with Sheldon Jeter’s half-brother, then 32-year-old Rashawn Bolton.
Lisa DelTondo: He gave her strength. I don’t know how … He’s built like, you know, The Hulk.
Joe DelTondo: Maybe that’s why she felt safe, I don’t know.
Lisa DelTondo: Yeah, maybe that’s why.
Joe DelTondo: But she felt safe with him.
But Rachael’s mother, Lisa, says the friendship did nothing but anger an already obsessed Sheldon.
Erin Moriarty: So, how did Sheldon feel when Rashawn started going out with Rachael?
Michael Moreland: Well (laughs) it wasn’t like the papers and everybody said.
Michael Moreland says that while his nephew was initially upset, Sheldon quickly moved on.
Michael Moreland: When another brother is dating a woman that I’m dating, of course, I’m going to get a little upset and ask “man, what are you doing,” OK? That’s all that was. It wasn’t all the hyped-up stuff or that much jealousy. Because Sheldon had other women that he was seeing, because of who he was.
As for Rachael, when she wasn’t with Rashawn, she was spending time with another high school student. Then 17-year-old Lauren Watkins.
Lauren Watkins: Rachael is family to me.
Erin Moriarty: But some people would say you were a teenager. She was in her early 30s … what did you two have in common?
Erin Moriarty: She helped me with everything. She took hours out of her day to help me with my college resumes … just was the best friend anyone could have.
But DelTondo’s mother was concerned about the age difference.
Lisa DelTondo: Her therapist told her to stay away from Lauren. She was too young. … But she said that she doesn’t wanna hurt, she didn’t want to hurt her feelings
On the evening of May 13, 2018 – Mother’s Day — Rachael’s protector, Rashawn, was out of town and Rachael decided to go out with Lauren.
Lauren Watkins: We would drive around, listen to music, talk. That was like our thing.
While driving, Lauren says they passed Sheldon Jeter in a car full of people.
Erin Moriarty: Did Sheldon Jeter see you?
Lauren Watkins: He did. … He had messaged me on Facebook and was like, “Did I just pass you guys.” And I’m like, “Yeah.” … And then he goes, “Well what are you doing?” And at that point I had stopped answering.
Lauren says she took Rachael home to pick up a sweatshirt and then the pair headed out again – this time to Hank’s for ice cream.
Lisa DelTondo: She said, “We’re goin’ to Hanks to get ice cream.” Little did I know that was the last words from my baby. Last words.
On the way, they picked up then 25-year-old Tyrie Jeter, he is another half-brother of Sheldon.
In the hour leading up to Rachael’s death, search warrant applications indicate that Sheldon was texting Tyrie. The texts suggest Sheldon may have been trying to track Rachael’s movement.
10:07 P.M.: “Is yal there already”
10:15 P.M.: “I got left huh [five smiley face emojis]”
10:19 P.M.: “Who all you with”
10:30 P.M.: “Hanks closed”
Erin Moriarty: Sheldon knew exactly where Rachael was that night. He knew and he knew what time she was going home didn’t he?
Michael Santicola | Sheldon Jeter’s attorney: Ah, I don’t think that that’s true. I don’t think—how he would know what time they’re going home?
Lauren says that she dropped Rachael off – and waited until her friend reached the side door to her house and opened it, before driving away.
Lauren Watkins: I don’t leave until anyone gets to their door. … Especially her. I always check my surroundings with her. There was nothing unusual, no unusual car, no person anywhere in sight.
Erin Moriarty: Is there any chance that Rachael did try to come in this side door?
Joe DelTondo: I think I would’ve heard it … I was right in that chair where I always am.
Erin Moriarty: Right by the door.
Joe DelTondo: Right by the door.
The shooter either followed Rachael, or was lying in wait. Less than four minutes after Lauren says she dropped Rachael off, Rachael wound up dead – not by the side door of her house, but all the way at the foot of her driveway. Rachael’s parents believe an obsessed Sheldon Jeter killed her.
Lisa DelTondo: That night, I knew it was him.
Erin Moriarty: Do you believe that Sheldon was upset enough to hurt Rachael, to have been involved in her murder?
Michael Moreland: Why would he be that upset when it was just a woman, he got caught up and that’s it. … What would he gain from it?
Michael Moreland also insists that his nephew was home that night with his grandparents, where he lived.
Michael Moreland: He was at home with my dad because he took care of my dad at nighttime.
Michael Santicola: There’s no evidence there that ties him to the crime. … And if you look at the way this girl was shot and if you look at the close range that she was shot, this was somebody who was comfortable with a gun … somebody that did not waiver, did not have emotion involved in this. To us it looks like a hit.
QUESTIONING SHELDON JETER
Just hours after Rachael DelTondo was killed, police were at Sheldon Jeter’s doorstep looking to question him, and a search warrant application indicates that that visit raised questions.
Erin Moriarty: It states that they ask Sheldon for the clothing he was wearing that night and he gave them other clothing.
Michael Santicola: That’s not how it went down. … There was a pile of clothes laying on the floor next to his bed where he was sleeping. They got up and said, “Are these the clothes that you were wearing?” … “Yeah, all my clothes are right there.” So, they scooped it up.
Defense attorney Michael Santicola insists it’s not his client’s fault that cops picked up the wrong clothes. But that same warrant application also states that Jeter failed to display any emotion when he was informed of Rachael’s death.
Michael Santicola: That’s absolutely untrue. … He was shocked. He was in shock.
Michael Moreland: He felt bad. Everybody that had heard about it felt bad.
Not long after Rachael’s death, Lauren Watkins told “48 Hours” that she couldn’t imagine Jeter capable of committing murder. And said she never once heard Rachael say she was afraid of him.
Erin Moriarty: Did Rachael ever indicate to you that Sheldon was obsessed with her or wanted to be with her?
Lauren Watkins: No.
Erin Moriarty: You had no sense of that at all.
Lauren Watkins: No.
For nearly two years, Michael Moreland says Sheldon lived under a shadow of suspicion, and tried to go on with his life.
Michael Moreland: He was working. He worked doubles. … He got involved in the church, dedicated his life to Christ.
And then, seemingly out of the blue …
NEWS REPORT: “An Aliquippa man who was a key figure in the unsolved murder of an Aliquippa woman is now charged in another homicide…”
On May 17, 2020, almost two years to the day that Rachael was gunned down, Sheldon Jeter was arrested and charged for a different murder. The victim in this case, Tyric Pugh, was reportedly like a brother to Jeter. In fact, he lived, on and off, with Sheldon and his family.
Michael Moreland: We raised him…. He’s not biological, but he’s a relative through the love we have for him.
Moreland says he was with Pugh and Jeter just hours before the murder. They were out getting—of all things—ice cream.
Erin Moriarty: There was a report that the two had argued earlier in the day. Is that not true?
Michael Moreland: That is not true. … We were happy. Wasn’t no fussin’, no argument
STATE TROOPER: I just want to go through your timeline again, make sure everything checked out.
Jeter would later tell police that he last saw his friend late that night, when Pugh left home for work.
SHELDON JETER: He left the house.
STATE TROOPER: He left your house?
SHELDON JETER: Yeah.
STATE TROOPER: He left your house on foot and that’s the last time you saw him?
SHELDON JETER: Yeah.
But at 11:10 p.m., a surveillance camera across the street captured Jeter and Pugh leaving home together. Then, cameras throughout the city show them driving toward the area where Tyric was killed.
STATE TROOPER: We have you and Tyric leaving together but we don’t have you guys returning home together.
SHELDON JETER: OK?
At 11:39 p.m., Jeter can be seen returning home alone. At that same time, a motorist who discovered Pugh’s body called 911. Like Rachael DelTondo, Tyric Pugh had been shot multiple times.
John Paul: Tyric Pugh had been struck seven times. … five times in the head.
Within hours, investigators were questioning Sheldon Jeter.
Michael Santicola: Sheldon didn’t ask for his lawyer. Sheldon was being open with them. He was interviewed three times. … And for whatever reason, they didn’t like his answers, or they thought that he was being inconsistent.
STATE TROOPER: it doesn’t look good for you. It doesn’t.
SHELDON JETER: I mean, I’m telling you, I told you everything, I mean, I don’t know how it can’t look good for me if I told you.
During this interview, detectives got a warrant to search Jeter’s home, and found a gun under his mattress. According to the state police crime lab, it’s the gun that shot Tyric Pugh. Gun powder residue was also found on the steering wheel of the car Jeter was driving.
Erin Moriarty: Do you fear that Sheldon may have been involved in Tyric’s death?
Michael Moreland: I don’t see no motive for it. That’s all. I don’t see no motives.
David Lozier: I’m not going to comment on any motive that Sheldon Jeter may have had in killing Mr. Pugh.
Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier.
David Lozier: We have DNA evidence. We have … video.
Michael Santicola told “48 Hours” that prosecutors tried to pressure Jeter into making a deal—but only if he would confess to the murder of Rachel DelTondo.
Michael Santicola: It’s been indicated to us that if we were going to … entertain a plea on this second case that they would only consider it if there was a plea on the other case.
Erin Moriarty: Is there any possibility, are you at all working out any kind of deal in the, the Pugh case that would help resolve the DelTondo case?
David Lozier: That would be presuming several things that I will not talk about.
There was no deal made. In early June 2021, Sheldon Jeter stood trial for the murder of Tyric Pugh. Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom. Jeter did not take the stand, but the jury was shown about two hours of his police interviews.
SHELDON JETER: I seen him walking, walk out the house.
STATE TROOPER: Yes, and that’s not on video anywhere.
No motive was given for the murder, but after just several hours of deliberation, the jury found 23-year-old Sheldon Jeter guilty. In Pennsylvania, first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole.
David Lozier: I’m very proud of the work that my team did … I believe Sheldon Jeter has a flash temper.
And Sheldon Jeter’s troubles may not be over yet. “48 Hours” has learned that a secret Pennsylvania statewide grand jury has heard evidence in Rachael DelTondo’s murder.
John Paul: There was testimony brought before the grand jury involving Sheldon Jeter. … The district attorney’s office hasn’t officially named a suspect or a person of interest … But certainly he has been the focus of a lot of their efforts.
Frank Catroppa’s new attorney told “48 Hours” his client was cleared of any suspicion in Rachael’s murder, and agreed to testify before that same grand jury. David Lozier confirmed that Catroppa is not a suspect in the murder of Rachael DelTondo— but would only say this about a possible suspect or charge in her death:
David Lozier: We’re pleased with the quality of the evidence that we have. And we’ll make an announcement when we believe that we can win a case to the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.
Shortly after losing her daughter, Lisa DelTondo predicted that Rachael’s killer would never be brought to justice. Still, the DelTondos pray for answers, and that their daughter is remembered— not for how she died, but for how she lived.
Erin Moriarty: What do you want people to know about Rachael?
Lisa DelTondo: I just want everybody to know … she was a good person. … she had a big heart. Big heart.
Anyone with information on Rachael DelTondo’s murder is asked to call the Beaver County Detective Bureau at 724-773-8569.