New evidence traced in Pittsburgh killings

Police analyzing surveillance video in East Liberty


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One of two sisters shot to death inside her East Liberty home last week was found naked, and sources say a liquid was poured over at least one of the women's bodies, possibly to mask forensic evidence.

Pittsburgh police responding to a call about 12:45 p.m. Friday to check on the well-being of Susan Wolfe, 44, found her naked inside the basement of the Chislett Street home she shared with her sister. The clothed body of her 38-year-old sister, Sarah Wolfe, was found nearby.

Allegheny County medical examiner Karl Williams has said the women each died of a single gunshot wound to the head and sustained other injuries, the details of which he would not provide. Neither he nor police have publicly commented on whether the women were sexually assaulted.

As Pittsburgh police continued to sort through evidence Monday, the Wolfe family prepared for Iowa funeral services scheduled later this week.

Homicide detectives and members of the Mobile Crime Unit, which helps to collect evidence, returned to the $210,000 house Sarah Wolfe purchased in December several times over the weekend and on Monday. Police remain mum on the details of a burglary that took place there shortly after they moved in.

Investigators continue to analyze video footage taken from a motion-activated camera located near the Carnegie Library's branch on Whitfield Street in East Liberty. Police spotted Sarah Wolfe's lime green Ford Fiesta parked nearby about 1:15 a.m. Saturday and have said at various points they suspect whoever killed the pair might have taken the car.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said that his prosecutors met with city homicide detectives over the weekend and again on Monday.

"It's amazing with technology that people have been utilizing -- especially surveillance cameras -- the amount of information you can generate in a short time," Mr. Zappala said.

As for how long until an arrest is made, the prosecutor said, "There's a guy that I like from a description of the evidence, but it's a little early for that."

Police have not released any information about a suspect or suspects.

The Wolfe family on Monday announced plans for a joint funeral service in Iowa, where the two grew up. A wake will be held at the Jesus Christ Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Clinton, Iowa, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday and a Mass will follow there at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

Along with the funeral information came obituaries written by the family that offered additional glimpses into the women's lives.

Susan Wolfe, a teacher's aide at Hillel Academy in Squirrel Hill, earned bachelor's degrees in English and elementary education and worked for a time as classroom and special education teacher in the Chicago public school system. She left the district's Frank W. Reilly Elementary School in November 2002, according to a district official.

She worked at the YWCA in Clinton, Iowa, before coming to Pittsburgh about four months ago.

"Always interested in another person's story and the experiences they had to share, Suzy's disarming questions and personal honesty led others to open up and share in response to her authentic interest in them," the family wrote. "Suzy was drawn to helping those who could not help themselves, especially children."

Sarah Wolfe recently signed up to volunteer with the Animal Friends shelter in Pittsburgh. She completed volunteer orientation on Jan. 25 and a cat handling class Feb. 1, according to spokeswoman Christina Bostardi.

Sarah Wolfe, a triple board certified psychiatrist at Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic and an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, moved to Pittsburgh after she earned her medical degree from the University of Iowa in 2007.

Sarah Wolfe stayed in touch daily with family members, who remembered "the rare combination of her warmth and generosity and her extensive knowledge of medical research."

Local psychiatrist and friend Garrett Sparks remembered her as "a loving friend, absolutely brilliant and one of the neatest people you could ever meet. ... Her sense of humor made her something of an icon among her close friends, several of whom would even jokingly call themselves the 'Wolfe Pack.' "

Correction (posted Feb. 11, 2014): An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified which sister volunteered at Animal Friends.


Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620. Jonathan D. Silver contributed. First Published February 10, 2014 7:26 PM


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