Neighbor facing trial in deaths of sisters


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Relatives of Allen Wade cried Friday while a deputy district attorney read the results of DNA testing done on a sample taken from under the fingernails of one of two East Liberty sisters he is accused of killing.

A match between the DNA of Wade and the sample found under Susan Wolfe's fingernails is 6.06 trillion times more probable than a match to another black man, deputy district attorney Simquita Bridges said. The chances that it could match a man of another race are even slimmer, she said.

On the other side of the aisle, others stared quietly, some putting their heads down, as Ms. Bridges read the autopsy reports for Susan and Sarah Wolfe. Both died of a single gunshot wound to the head and sustained contusions on their bodies.

Police: Surveillance videos show suspect in murders

This is a compilation of surveillance videos police obtained during their investigation of the murders of sisters Sarah and Susan Wolfe. Police say the man in the videos is suspect Allen Wade. (Videos from District Attorney's Office; 4/4/2014)

Wade, a 43-year-old convicted felon, was ordered to stand trial Friday after a two-hour preliminary hearing before District Judge Scott Schricker. The hearing included testimony from Detective Harry Lutton, the lead investigator on the case, and nine surveillance video clips gathered when police visited businesses in the neighborhood.

Detective Lutton said police were called to the sisters' home on Chislett Street about 1 p.m. Feb. 7 after co-workers of Susan Wolfe, a teacher's aide at Hillel Academy in Squirrel Hill, called 911 because they were concerned that she had not come to work.

When they arrived, the boyfriend of Sarah Wolfe, a 38-year-old psychiatrist at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, was standing outside. He told police that his girlfriend's co-workers had called him because they were concerned that she too had not come to work, and he unlocked the door for officers, Detective Lutton said.

When they opened the door, they found blood spattered on a wall and paper tossed onto the floor as if it had been knocked over, he said. Blood was on the floor and on the basement steps, police said.

Detective Lutton testified that they found Sarah Wolfe lying fully clothed at the bottom of the steps, a blanket covering her head and what appeared to be a gunpowder burn on her left hand, which was bent up toward her head.

Near the washer and dryer, police found Susan Wolfe completely naked atop a pile of clothing. Liquid laundry detergent had been poured over both women and some bleach had been poured throughout the crime scene as well, the detective said.

Security logs showed the front door opened and closed multiple times throughout the night, first at 7:26 p.m. Feb. 6, shortly after Susan Wolfe was spotted getting off a Port Authority bus near her house. It opened and closed again at 8:53 p.m.

A half-hour later, Sarah Wolfe used a card to swipe out of the garage at Western Psych, and records show the front door opened and closed again at 9:40 p.m.

Detective Lutton said the door opened and closed again at 9:51 p.m. and at 9:54 p.m.

Shortly after police discovered the women's bodies, they noticed that their bank cards and other items were missing, including Sarah Wolfe's lime green car.

"We were thinking possibly it was a robbery that went bad," Detective Lutton said.

Police obtained a search warrant for the Wolfe sisters' bank information and learned that their cards had been used at a Citizens Bank ATM across from the East Liberty Target store at 12:44 a.m.

Following Detective Lutton's testimony, Ms. Bridges played clips from nine surveillance videos police obtained during their investigation. Among them was a video that showed a person in a red sweatshirt and gray sweatpants, with a white T-shirt covering the face, using two bank cards at the Citizens Bank ATM. A black glove covered the person's right hand, used to punch in numbers on the machine, and the left hand was tucked up into its sleeve, a small hint of black fabric underneath peeking out at one point during various videos.

Detectives used video to trace that person to a Midas shop on Whitfield Street, where they said surveillance video showed the man removing pants. A report by Mark Perlin, chief scientific officer of Cybergenetics, said the chances that the DNA found in the waistband and a blood stain on a pair of pants recovered from that same area during the homicide investigation did not match Wade were one in several quintillion.

Police also obtained video of a man they say is Wade dressed in dark clothing and purchasing cigarettes from a nearby Sunoco station not long after the gray sweatpants were discarded. Detective Wade Sarver, who processed the video, said one clip showed the man throwing an object into a trash can, from which police said they later recovered a pen that referenced the state where the sisters' relatives live. They said the shoes the man in that video wore looked like the ones worn by the person in the other videos.

Defense attorney Blaine Jones asked Detective Sarver, "At any time through any of the videos, did you see anyone discard a red-hooded sweatshirt?"

"No," the detective said.

Wade's mother, brother and girlfriend and others who attended the hearing left without commenting, as did Sarah's boyfriend.

Wade "maintains his innocence, just like he did to all of you, just like he did to the detectives on this case," Mr. Jones said.

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.


First Published April 4, 2014 12:44 PM


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