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Possible suspect found in slaying of Wolfe sisters of East Liberty

- Sarah Wolfe, left, and Susan Wolfe.
Sarah Wolfe, left, and Susan Wolfe.

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By Margaret Harding
Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, 11:15 p.m.

Investigators have a potential suspect in the fatal shooting of two sisters in their East Liberty home, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said on Monday.

“There's a guy I like,” Zappala said.

He wouldn't identify the man or describe his connection to the sisters, but Zappala said detectives made “a great deal” of progress on the case and met with officials in his office in the morning.

“It's amazing, with the technology people are using, the information you can generate in a short period of time,” Zappala said.

Dr. Sarah Wolfe, 38, a psychiatrist for Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, and Susan Wolfe, 44, a teacher's aide at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill, died in a home the younger sibling bought in December on Chislett Street. Friends and Pittsburgh police went to the home when the women did not go to work on Friday. They found the bodies in the basement. The medical examiner said each died from a single gunshot in the head.

Lt. Daniel Herrmann, who supervises the homicide squad, would not talk about the investigation.

“We're working diligently and following up all the details we can,” he said.

Police officers stepped up patrols in and around the neighborhood, Zone 5 Cmdr. Timothy O'Connor said.

“It's tragic that this happened,” he said. “We've increased uniform patrols not only in East Liberty, but in the surrounding area. Whoever this perpetrator is, is still at large.”

Neighbors on Chislett described the street as quiet, and O'Connor said East Liberty is becoming less known for crime.

“I think the stature of the ladies in question moving into the neighborhood speaks for its stability,” said Charles Honeywell, who works with East Liberty Chamber of Commerce.

Sarah Wolfe had worked for UPMC since 2007. Susan Wolfe recently moved to Pittsburgh.

Shortly after Sarah Wolfe bought the house, the pair came home from a celebratory birthday dinner to find the home burglarized, said Dori Oshlag, director of the early childhood center at Hillel. The burglary worried Susan Wolfe, who talked about putting bars on windows and installing an alarm system.

“But her general way was, she just took it in stride,” Oshlag said. “She said, ‘We'll do the necessary things that need to be done.' She loved the new home.”

Police would not release details about the burglary.

Oshlag said the center had planned a celebration in honor of Susan Wolfe's name to kick off “S” week. The center's students celebrate a week for each letter of the alphabet. Instead, grief counselors were made available to the staff.

“Susan had such genuine, positive outlook on life, on people,” Oshlag said. “She was very excited to be living here with her sister. There was no reason for us to have thought that something like this would ever have occurred.”

Sarah and Susan Wolfe are natives of Des Moines, Iowa. They are survived by their parents, four sisters and two brothers. Services are scheduled Friday in Clinton, Iowa, where their parents live.

Margaret Harding is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Staff writer Adam Brandolph contributed to this report.

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