This is a timeline of the events leading up to and since the May 13, 2018 murder of Rachael Elena DelTondo, 33, of Aliquippa, as well as ongoing Aliquippa city and police corruption investigations.
Information gathered as part of the Beaver Countian’s exclusive investigative reporting effort is based on public records, official comment, firsthand observations, interviews and personal accounts. Any information obtained from confidential sources has been corroborated by at least two independent sources.
This timeline will be continually updated.
Timeline Last Updated: Monday, October 22nd, 2018 at 1:30 p.m.
DelTondo’s friends tell the Beaver Countian that she worked for a year as a permanent second- and third-grade substitute teacher in the Aliquippa School District.
DelTondo’s mother, Lisa, says it was there she first encountered Sheldon Jeter Jr., then an elementary student:
“She never had him as her own student, that was another lie. He was one of a group of boys there whose teacher used to say, ‘If you’re good today you can go down the hall to see Miss D. after class.’ They thought she was beautiful because she was.”
An incident involving Jeter Jr. many years later would become part of a story told by news outlets around the world.
DelTondo’s short life began unraveling as her relationship with Frank Catroppa, 36, fell apart, her mother believes.
Catroppa says later during press interviews the two had a relationship for about eight years in total. DelTondo’s friends say it had been on-again/off-again.
The couple was engaged during a trip to Paris in June 2015. Wedding plans informally came to an end in October 2015. The engagement formally ended on Valentine’s Day 2016, when DelTondo returned her ring to Catroppa.
The two remained friendly and continued speaking into October 2017.
FEB. 6, 2016
Aliquippa Police Sgt. Kenneth Watkins and Officer Fran Conkle find DelTondo with Jeter Jr., 17 at that time, at 1:52 a.m. sitting in a steamed-up parked car in the area of the old Aliquippa hospital.
Police allege DelTondo told them the teen was her former student who was upset and had called her because he needed to talk. Police say she tells them she doesn’t want her fiancé, Catroppa, to know where she was because he would get angry.
Police file no incident report and no charges.
A report is created about the incident, which occurred more than a year earlier. Police Chief Donald Couch later tells the media it was done “in case someone got wind of it.”
Footers on all the information indicate the reports were printed out on May 2, 2017 at 3:11 a.m.
OCT. 26, 2017
An anonymous email containing the incident report and alleging a police coverup goes out to a number of people, including DelTondo’s employer (the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Midland), county and state agencies, media outlets including the Beaver Countian, and her friends.
The email includes sensitive personal information from state and federal databases available only to law enforcement, and strictly forbidden to be released to unauthorized individuals. Among the information are Social Security numbers, birth dates, signature images, telephone numbers and home addresses.
Couch later claims to the press that confidential information about DelTondo had been handed out in error, along with the incident report, to a member of the public when requested. Couch refuses to name the person.
Aliquippa police reiterate that an investigation of the incident involving DelTondo and Jeter Jr. revealed no wrongdoing and no charges were filed.
OCT. 27, 2017
A second anonymous email is sent to the Beaver Countian alleging, “The reason this report was not filed in February 2016 with the Aliquippa School District, Children and Youth Services and a mandated report to the Department of Education was because it was an attempted cover up.”
NOV. 6, 2017
DelTondo is placed on administrative suspension with pay from her job pending an investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. PA Cyber Charter School says Jeter Jr. was not a former student there.
DEC. 8-12, 2017
The Beaver Countian publishes an extensive investigative report revealing the leak of the sensitive justice network files by the Aliquippa Police Department:
In reaction to that report, the Pennsylvania State Police Beaver Barracks in Brighton Township opens a criminal investigation into the leak by Aliquippa police. Beaver County Emergency Services Director Eric Brewer confirms to the Beaver Countian that his agency is cooperating with the criminal investigation.
A parallel Justice Network (Jnet) administrative investigation is launched by state police out of Harrisburg.
STARTING IN DECEMBER 2017
DelTondo begins speaking with the Beaver Countian as a confidential source. She says she is cooperating with state police and the Organized Crime Section of the state Attorney General’s Office. She also tells the Beaver Countian that she had begun receiving a series of death threats and she fears for her life.
According to a later affidavit filed by police as part of the search warrant for Jeter Jr.’s home, it is also alleged that in December 2017 that DelTondo began a “serious relationship” with Rashawn Bolton, 31, Jeter Jr.’s half brother.
State police in Harrisburg conclude their administrative investigation into the Aliquippa Police Department. The department is given administrative sanctions, including a probationary period.
The criminal investigation into the Aliquippa police remains open.
FEB. 8, 2018
The Beaver Countian learns from multiple confidential sources that Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker is refusing to speak with state police as part of its investigation of the City of Aliquippa and its police department.
FEB. 12-16, 2018
The Pennsylvania Statewide Investigating Grand Jury hears testimony about alleged corruption in Beaver County, according to multiple confidential sources.
MARCH 2, 2018
The state police execute a search warrant at Aliquippa City Hall and seize documents and computers, including those from Walker and City Administrator Samuel Gill.
Six of the eight pages of the search warrant are sealed and part of a grand jury investigation, according to then-State Police Lt. Eric Hermick.
MAY 13, 2018
DelTondo is shot multiple times and killed in her parents’ Aliquippa driveway at 10:45 p.m.
Police say she’d been out for ice cream just prior to the shootings with the minor daughter of city Police Sgt. Watkins and Tyrie Jeter, 26, Jeter Jr.’s brother.
MAY 14, 2018
Aliquippa police execute a search warrant for Jeter Jr.’s cell phone, call records and geolocation data.
The Beaver Countian publishes a report revealing that DelTondo had been interviewed by state law enforcement and was a confidential journalistic source for BeaverCountian.com.
MAY 14-15, 2018
Aliquippa Police Capt. Robert Sealock sends a letter to Couch, alleging that Watkins acted unprofessionally and could have contaminated the DelTondo crime scene. Sealock writes that Watkins was off-duty and didn’t listen to other officers telling him to stay out.
Couch puts Watkins on paid administrative leave to “preserve the integrity of the case” because of his daughter’s association with it.
MAY 16, 2018
DelTondo’s former fiancé Catroppa meets with members of the press, including the Beaver Countian. The businessman once nicknamed the “Wolf of Aliquippa” tells reporters, “When you’re with somebody for eight years, that’s quite some time. You just hope to see that they at least get justice. It’s a sad, sad case.”
His attorney Stephen Colafella adds, “We wanted to be very, very, clear publicly that Frank Catroppa has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what happened.”
MAY 17, 2018
Aliquippa police execute another search warrant at Jeter Jr.’s home and remove bags of evidence. The search warrant alleges that DelTondo was in a relationship with Jeter Jr.’s brother, Bolton, for the last six months.
Michael F. Santicola, the attorney of Jeter Jr., now 20, tells the media that DelTondo and his client also had an on-again/off-again romantic relationship. Santicola says Jeter Jr. had nothing to do with DelTondo’s murder.
MAY 18, 2018
DelTondo’s mother, Lisa, speaks out for the first time since her daughter’s murder in an exclusive interview with the Beaver Countian.
“She looked very angry in the coffin,” an emotional Lisa says. “She always had a big white toothy smile on her face in life, so to see her look that angry was very hard. Very hard.”
MAY 21, 2018
State police indirectly confirm to the Beaver Countian that an investigation into possible Aliquippa police corruption remains ongoing, contradicting Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier’s previous statements to other media outlets.
City police execute a search warrant for Facebook data from Stephanie Watkins, the wife of police Sgt. Watkins and mother of the girl who was with DelTondo shortly before her death.
The media learns that police executed additional warrants for Stephanie Watkins’ daughter, Jeter Jr., and Rachael DelTondo, including the search of Facebook private messages, wall postings, friend listings, future and past events, video listings, status updates, shares and other information for days before and after the murder.
MAY 23, 2018
A judge orders further search warrants issued in the case will be sealed at the request of police.
DelTondo’s mother, Lisa, says that Jeter Jr. was “obsessed” with her daughter, and wanted to marry her. Before her death, DelTondo also told the Beaver Countian she had no intimate relationship with Jeter Jr.
Jeter Jr.’s attorney, Santicola claims they had a sexual relationship and calls her a “frequent flier.”
MAY 28, 2018
Lisa DelTondo calls for an outside agency to investigate her daughter’s murder.
MAY 29, 2018
The Beaver Countian reveals that multiple subpoenas were served for the state grand jury investigating corruption in Beaver County, and specifically in Aliquippa.
JUNE 2, 2018
DelTondo’s mother, Lisa, says she’s told by county detectives that it may be months before an arrest occurs in her daughter’s death.
JUNE 6, 2018
Aliquippa Council unanimously votes to put Police Chief Couch on paid administrative leave. Councilman Matthew Mottes says he has been cooperating with state investigators and says he has firsthand knowledge that Couch is a subject in a state police investigation.
Assistant Police Chief Joseph Perciavalle is named acting chief, and says he plans to recuse the city department from DelTondo’s murder investigation and seek help from the state police.
JUNE 8, 2018
Acting Aliquippa Police Chief Perciavalle is arrested and charged by Beaver County Detectives on charges of felony distribution of sexually explicit material to a minor, felony unlawful contact with a minor for sending obscene material, and misdemeanor corruption of minors.
Perciavalle is accused of sending an obscene text message to a minor, who sources say is the 17-year-old daughter of Aliquippa Sgt. Watkins. The smartphone the messages were allegedly found on was confiscated from Watkins’ daughter as part of DelTondo’s murder investigation.
Perciavalle leaves on vacation when this happens. Council is expected to take action on his official status June 15.
JUNE 9, 2018
Aliquippa Council names Capt. Robert Sealock its second acting chief of police.
JUNE 12, 2018
It’s revealed that Aliquippa Police and Beaver County Detectives, at the direction of DA Lozier, searched the Beaver County jail cell of Wayne Cordes, who is awaiting trial on unrelated charges.
Cordes had previously told the Beaver Countian that he received a letter a few days after DelTondo’s death that allegedly contained details of how she died.
County detectives also raided the office of Cordes’ defense attorney, Gerald Benyo Jr., and he was placed under a gag order regarding the DelTondo case. Both raids were conducted with sealed search warrants.
JUNE 13, 2018
Acting Aliquippa Police Chief Robert Sealock recuses the department from the DelTondo murder investigation and planned to contact the state police.
Cordes’ defense attorney files a motion asking for sanctions against DA Lozier, claiming Cordes’ Constitutional rights and state laws were violated in the jail cell search.
JUNE 16, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf appoints Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker to his Advisory Commission on African-American Affairs.
BeaverCountian.com uncovers a discrepancy with the jailhouse letter purporting to be a firsthand account of DelTondo’s murder.
The woman who mailed the letter to inmate Wayne Cordes claimed she got it from the witness while working at the Circle K in Aliquippa. A store assistant manager confirmed the woman didn’t work there when she claimed to receive the letter.
JUNE 17, 2018
CBS News’ 48 Hours begins filming locally for a future program about DelTondo’s murder. It will be hosted by Erin Moriarty with help from BeaverCountian.com.
JUNE 19, 2018
Fired Aliquippa patrolman Anthony Quinn tells BeaverCountian.com he’s been interviewed multiple times by the State Police and the FBI as part of ongoing probes into public corruption in the county. Quinn claims he lost his job in May 2017 after it was discovered he was investigating possible ties between drug rings and city police and elected officials.
“There is no doubt in my mind there are ties between the Aliquippa city government and drug rings, definitely,” Quinn said. “From when I worked there I have seen the evidence.”
JUNE 29, 2018
A Beaver County judge orders some search warrant information be released in the case of the “DelTondo murder letter.” New court filings reveal county detectives seized defense documents pertaining to the inmate’s unrelated criminal case during his jail cell raid. The information directly contradicts DA Lozier’s statements that no such documents were taken. The sanctions filing against Lozier is pending.
JULY 1, 2018
BeaverCountian.com refuses a county detectives bureau request for unpublished information. The bureau also claims it’s racked up more than 400 overtime hours investigating the murder.
JULY 2, 2018
Aliquippa Acting Police Chief Sealock suffers a stroke, which is recoverable. He returns to work having been ordered to quit smoking and reduce stress. In July, the department worked 106 overtime shifts. One officer worked 12 double shifts in 13 days. Sealock took five doubles in a row. The department is down six officers to 12 and with few applicants.
JULY 9, 2018
DA Lozier gives Wayne Cordes, the jail inmate who received the “DelTondo murder letter,” a plea deal reducing multiple felony charges to misdemeanors. He’ll be released the following week. Lozier tells a TV reporter the plea was in exchange for Cordes agreeing to testify in future DelTondo-related court proceedings, saying Cordes could become a “key” in the case. Cordes’ attorney says the agreement was reached so Lozier could avoid sanctions filed against him.
JULY 10, 2018
Suspended Aliquippa Assistant Police Chief Joseph Perciavalle is arrested for the second time by county detectives. Detectives file a felony charge of intercepting a communication, alleging Perciavalle recorded a conversation with suspended Aliquippa Police Chief Couch on March 2, the day state police served a search warrant on city offices.
Perciavalle’s accused of secretly recording 39 minutes in which the two talk about the police department, its pension fund, the city manager and Aliquippa High School football. Perciavalle is released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
JULY 11, 2018
DelTondo’s mother, Lisa, expresses outrage that DA Lozier is calling the “DelTondo murder letter” possible key evidence. She says county detectives have already told her it’s fake.
BeaverCountian.com reports that inside DA office sources also say it’s known to be fake and that the woman who allegedly sent it had been recorded saying she lied about it.
JULY 12, 2018
Aliquippa’s Acting Police Chief Sealock issues emergency orders to officers, calling off street patrols and requiring officers to travel to calls in groups. His actions are in reaction to newspaper and TV reports, in which DA Lozier created the impression that an unnamed police officer may have killed DelTondo.
Several county police chiefs and officers tell BeaverCountian.com they planned to approach police unions about possibly demanding Lozier’s resignation, saying he put their lives in danger with his reckless comments.
AUGUST 27, 2018
Former county inmate Wayne Cordes admits he concocted the entire “DelTondo murder letter” in order to scam the DA’s office and obtain a good plea deal. He passes an FBI lie detector test indicating he’s telling the truth.
He says he never even knew DelTondo.
AUGUST 31, 2018
Aliquippa rehires a police officer terminated from the department in 2016 after being arrested for the off-duty shooting of an Allegheny County Jail guard during an altercation in Carrick. Joshua Gonzalez, 26, was found not guilty in a jury trial in March on charges of aggravated assault for the shooting.
City Councilman Matthew Mottes tells BeaverCountian.com he had concerns about bringing Gonzalez back, but ultimately felt he was left with little choice because of the lack of qualified candidates.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2018
Lisa DelTondo visits Rachael’s newly completed memorial in the cemetery for the first time.
Lisa begins sorting through the belongings in her daughter’s room.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2018
State investigators seize a handgun belonging to DelTondo’s ex-fiancee, Frank Catroppa, as part of the Pennsylvania Statewide Investigating Grand Jury criminal probe.
Aliquippa police had the gun, which they originally seized from Catroppa in 2014 in connection with an unrelated investigation.
Two sources with firsthand information say a company belonging to Catroppa was audited by the IRS in June, which is believed to be part of a larger investigation into his dealings.
BeaverCountian.com confirms from two sources that Catroppa’s brother, Joseph “Jojo” Catroppa, and mother, Yvonne Catroppa, were subpoenaed to testify during secretive grand jury proceedings being held in Pittsburgh.
Jojo is awaiting trial on three unrelated county cases for felony charges of narcotics distribution. Yvonne had been an employee of the Beaver County Prothonotary’s Office since early 2000, but abruptly retired as BeaverCountian.com began asking questions about an alleged incident involving her sons.
BeaverCountian.com reports from multiple sources that other witnesses subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury in recent weeks have included current and former Aliquippa police officers and deputies in the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office.
OCTOBER 19, 2018
Desperate to get more information about her daughter’s murder, Lisa DelTondo buys tickets to see Theresa Caputo, a self-proclaimed psychic medium who stars in TLC’s reality tv show “Long Island Medium,” at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh.
Caputo claims to speak to Rachael from beyond the grave during the performance but does not identify her murderer.