Search warrants reveal clues, evidence in case of missing Whitehall woman
Elizabeth Wiesenfeld made it partway through her morning routine April 30 before something brought the day to an abrupt halt, and police believe mounting evidence points toward the woman’s former handyman.
Wiesenfeld, 67, was reported missing April 30 by her daughter after she failed to go to work that morning, according to police.
The Whitehall woman usually rose around 7 or 7:30 a.m., wrote in her journal, read her Bible, drank her tea and readied for her work day, her daughter told police. She’d leave around 9 a.m. to arrive at her workplace by 9:30 a.m.
On April 30, Wiesenfeld appeared to have made it through her tea and wrote in her journal, police said, and while her makeup bag was out, there was no sign of Wiesenfeld.
Douglas Berry, 47, has not been charged in relation to the disappearance, but police have named him their chief suspect, carrying out search warrants at his McKeesport home and two vehicles he allegedly uses.
Those search warrants turned up, among other things, apparent blood stains in the back passenger seat of Berry’s Ford F-150, traces of blood on the steering wheel cover and empty cigarette packages.
A May 1 search of the home also yielded a 9mm pistol.
Berry, a convicted felon, cannot legally own a gun, and he has been jailed on that firearm violation since May 2. Court records in that case describe Berry as a “prime suspect in a missing person case, who is presumed dead.”
More signs of discord stood out to Wiesenfeld’s daughter, according to the court paperwork: the dog was loose in the house rather than shut in a bedroom, a rug in her bedroom was askew, her glasses were behind the bedroom door and her iPhone, wallet and purse were nowhere to be found.
Cigarette butts were found near her home, though she did not smoke, according to police.
Wiesenfeld’s daughter told police she received a text message from her mother’s number about 11:11 a.m. the same day: “I met someone were (sic) leaving now for about a week look after everything at the house please I’m going to have a good time for once.”
According to court records, the daughter texted back immediately, but the message never showed as delivered. Calls to the phone went to voicemail, police said, and Wiesenfeld’s daughter became concerned “as the message did not sound like her mother.”
District Attorney Steven A. Zappala Jr. said earlier in the week investigators believe Berry had the cell phone at the time the text was sent.
“He knew something about her routine,” Zappala said. “He was in that house, and I think he met the daughter, too. The text was sent at 11 a.m., which is approximately the same time that she would text her daughter every day. We pinged a (cell) tower and we put him on the South Side, and then the cameras down there picked him up.”
Wiesenfeld’s stepson told police his stepmother previously hired Berry as a handyman. Her brother told police that although she never gave a name, she’d told him that a man who had been in and out of prison was doing work for her and she’d become afraid of him, so she stopped hiring him for work.
“Wiesenfeld told (her brother) that sometime after that, October 2018 possibly, (the handyman) showed up at her house unannounced and she just ignored him until he went away,” police wrote in a search warrant.
Interviewed by police, Berry allegedly said he hadn’t seen Wiesenfeld for about six months, according to the search warrant.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .