Pittsburgh police call neighbor questioned in East Liberty double homicide case 'person of interest'
By Margaret Harding
Published: Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, 11:42 a.m.
Pittsburgh police set free early Thursday a man they called a “person of interest” in the slayings of two East Liberty sisters, but they'll be watching him.
A marked police car was parked on Chislett Street outside the home where police found Susan Wolfe, 44, and Sarah Wolfe, 38, shot dead in their basement on Feb. 7. A next-door neighbor, whom police did not publicly identify, spoke to detectives for hours in police headquarters in the North Side since he agreed to come in with them for an interview on Wednesday.
“After the interview and subsequent search of the residence, detectives accompanied the male back to his residence,” Lt. Daniel Herrmann wrote in a press release. “The male is considered a person of interest.”
Police would not divulge details of the interview or the investigation.
Detectives drove him home because they did not have cause to arrest him. No one answered the door at the home on Thursday afternoon.
Zone 5 police Cmdr. Timothy O'Connor said he stepped up patrols in the neighborhood since the discovery of the women's bodies and placed an officer outside the house around the clock to “protect the integrity of the crime scene.”
“We just want to make sure there's a police presence for 24 hours,” said O'Connor, who took a two-hour shift at the scene. “We want to make sure there's no gaps in our coverage.”
Other than the police car and bouquets of flowers on the steps of the Wolfes' home, there were few signs of the recent drama.
Detectives conducted a two-hour search of the man's first-floor apartment at 10:40 p.m. Wednesday. A woman who declined to be identified said her daughter lives in the home in the apartment with the man whom police questioned. She said the man isn't working, recently was released from the hospital and had difficulty in walking.
She said her daughter arrived home from work about noon Wednesday for lunch. Police came to the door and asked for the man, who left with detectives.
The daughter also went to headquarters willingly for an interview, Herrmann said.
Police submitted items for possible DNA testing to the lab at the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office, but laboratory director Robert Huston said he could not say when the items would be analyzed. He authorized overtime for forensic pathologists to work on the case.
“I can't put a time frame on it,” Huston said. “It is prioritized, and we are trying to expedite it.”
He did not say what items are being analyzed.
Investigators said they suspect the person involved in the killing meticulously hid his face when he ditched Sarah Wolfe's stolen car and lurked around East Liberty early Feb. 7. They think he might be the same person who later bought cigarettes at a nearby Sunoco gas station and was caught on video.
Police suspected the man they took in for questioning on Wednesday to be the same person, sources said.
Police found the bodies of the two women in the basement of their home. There was evidence to suggest the killer attempted to clean the scene because the nude body of Susan Wolfe, a teacher's aide at Hillel Academy in Squirrel Hill, was doused in bleach. The body of Sarah Wolfe, a psychiatrist for Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, was fully clothed.
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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