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Police locate car of East Liberty woman found shot to death

Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
The home of Sarah and Susan Wolfe on Chislett Street where the sisters were found slain on Feb. 7.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Tory N. Parrish and Bill Vidonic
Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, 7:57 a.m.
 

Neighbors recall seeing lights on through the night at the home of Sarah and Susan Wolfe on Chislett Street in East Liberty.

“The third floor, the second floor, the first floor, I just thought that was unusual,” neighbor Mary Anne Lipinski said on Saturday.

Police worked to develop leads in the shooting deaths of Dr. Sarah Wolfe, a psychiatrist for Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, and her older sister, Susan Wolfe, a teacher's aide at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill. Their bodies were found on Friday in the basement of their 93-year-old brick home.

Police said there were no signs of forced entry.

“Everybody's a suspect right now,” said Pittsburgh police Lt. Daniel Herrmann.

Investigators don't have a clear motive for the killings.

“We don't know if the victims knew their assailant,” Herrmann said. “It is possible, but we do not know.”

Police located Sarah Wolfe's car around 1:15 a.m. Saturday parked nearly a mile from her home on South Whitfield Street between Penn Avenue and Baum Boulevard. Police were processing the car for evidence, Herrmann said.

The women's sister, Mary Wolfe, said in a phone interview from her Clinton, Iowa, home that her family was awaiting answers.

“We're not sure what happened,” said Mary Wolfe, an Iowa state representative. “We're still processing it.”

She said Sarah Wolfe, 38, had worked for UPMC since 2007, while Susan Wolfe, 44, had recently moved to Pittsburgh to live with her sister. Sarah Wolfe had bought the home in December.

She said that police asked the family not to discuss the slayings.

“Sarah and Suzy had a lot of friends and colleagues who cared for them,” Mary Wolfe said.

Herrmann said Sarah Wolfe's boyfriend, Matthew Buchholz of Friendship, was “cooperating 100 percent” with investigators.

Buchholz could not be reached. On his Facebook page, he wrote, “Sarah was a beautiful, brilliant, funny woman who worked as a children's psychiatrist and was an old school riot ‘grrrl.' And her sister Suzy was trying to start a new life here in Pittsburgh. This whole thing is unimaginably sad.”

Officials at the Hillel Academy in Squirrel Hill and UPMC called police on Friday after neither woman showed up for work. Police arrived at the house, and a male friend of one woman got a key and let police inside. Police discovered the bodies in the basement.

In her biography on UPMC's website, Sarah Wolfe described herself as a cat owner who was an avid reader, “books, magazines, cereal boxes, whatever,” a vegan for nearly 13 years and a “devoted student of the popular culture.”

“Also, having lived in Iowa my entire life, I feel very comfortable in Pittsburgh. The people are really friendly, and it's small enough to be manageable, but big enough to have pretty much whatever you want,” Wolfe wrote.

The shooting deaths surprised some longtime Chislett Street neighbors because the neighborhood is normally quiet and safe, they said.

“Everybody pretty much keeps to themselves,” said Regina Brown, 53, who has lived on Chislett Street for seven years, but didn't know the Wolfe sisters.

Married couple Henry and Mary Anne Lipinski have lived on Chislett Street for 34 years. Mary Anne Lipinski said she had never met the Wolfe sisters. She described the neighborhood as tranquil.

“It's very quiet. Not a lot of craziness,” said Mary Anne Lipinski, 66.

Tory N. Parrish and Bill Vidonic are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach Parrish at 412-380-5662 ortparrish@tribweb.com.Reach Vidonic at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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