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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Susan and Sarah Wolfe Murder Case

     Dr. Sarah Wolfe and her sister Susan grew up in Clinton, Iowa. Their father, Jack Wolfe, headed a law firm in Clinton where his wife Pierrette practiced. Mary Wolfe, the eldest child in the family of ten, also a lawyer, had been elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2011.

     Since 2007, Dr. Sarah Wolfe, a 38-year-old child and adolescent psychiatrist, had been treating victims of domestic abuse at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The graduate of Iowa University School of Medicine, she also held the position of Associate Professor in the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Psychiatry.

     In November 2012, 44-year-old Susan Wolfe left her job as a special education teacher in the Chicago public school system. She returned to Clinton where she worked at the YWCA. After Susan moved to Pittsburgh in November 2013, she and her younger sister purchased a 93-year-old, two-story brick house in the East Liberty section of the city. Susan had accepted a job as a teacher's aide at Hillel Academy in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. At the school she worked with students with behavioral problems.

     On Friday, February 7, 2014, the sisters' co-workers at the psychiatric clinic and the academy became concerned when Sarah and Susan failed to show up for work. This prompted a visit to the Chislett Street house by a Pittsburgh police officer.

     The police officer, at forty-five minutes past noon, knocked on the Wolfe's front door. When no one responded, the officer walked around the dwelling and peeked into windows. Seeing nothing unusual inside the house, the officer headed toward his patrol car. Before he drove off, Matthew Buchholz, a man who identified himself as Sarah Wolfe's boyfriend, approached the officer. The resident of Friendship, Pennsylvania possessed a house key the officer used to enter the dwelling.

     In the basement of the home, the officer discovered the bodies of Sarah and Susan Wolfe. Susan was nude, her sister clothed. They had been each killed by a single bullet to the head. The killer had poured some kind of liquid over one of the bodies in an effort to destroy physical evidence. Susan Wolfe had been badly beaten as well as shot.

     Detectives at the murder scene found no evidence of a forced entry. Dr. Sarah Wolfe's car, a lime green 2011 Ford Fiesta, was not at the house. The vehicle was last seen by a neighbor at 9:25 PM on Thursday, February 6, 2014.

     A police officer, at l:15 in the morning of February 8, spotted the Wolfe vehicle parked about a mile from the scene of the double murder. Crime scene investigators processed the Ford for traces of physical evidence that could shed some light on the murders.

     Homicide detectives theorized that when Dr. Sarah Wolfe arrived home that Thursday night, she walked into a crime in progress. Police found her sister naked and doused with chemicals. Sarah lay nearby at the foot of the basement stairs with her coat half off.

     On Wednesday, February 19, 2014, police officers searched a house next door to the Wolfe sisters' residence and hauled the occupant, a man with a history of burglary and robbery, to police headquarters for interrogation.

     On March 5, 2014, the authorities charged next door neighbor, Allen D. Wade, 43, with two counts of criminal homicide, robbery and theft. A forensic scientist with a private Pittsburgh laboratory found, under Susan Wolfe's fingernails, a mixture of male and female DNA. Traces of Wade's blood were found on a pair of gray sweatpants connected to the murder scene. Detectives took DNA samples from the suspect who denied any involvement in the killings.

     In April 2014, at a preliminary hearing before District Judge John Scott Schricker, a prosecutor with the Allegheny County District Attorneys office presented enough incriminating evidence against Allen Wade to justify moving the case to trial.

     Dectetive Harry Lutton, the lead investigator in the Wolfe double murder, testified that the victims' bank cards had been used by Wade at the Citizens Bank ATM across from the East Liberty Target store.

     Deputy District Attorney Simquita Bridges showed clips from nine surveillance videos showing a man believed to be the suspect using the victims' bank cards. The prosecutor also read the results of a crime laboratory report that identified the defendant's DNA as being under Susan Wolfe's fingernails.

     In May 2014, the district attorneys office announced it would seek the death penalty against Mr. Wade. According to prosecutors, the Wolfe case featured two aggravating circumstances that justified the application of the death sentence. The defendant stood accused of killing Dr. Sarah Wolfe because she witnessed the murder of her sister. Secondly, Mr. Wade was suspected of committing the murder during the commission of a felony.

     Given the fact the current governor of Pennsylvania recently placed moratorium on capital punishment, the death sentence in this case is unlikely.

     On November 16, 2014, the process of selecting a jury got underway in the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh. The next day, however, Judge Edward J. Borkowski postponed the murder trial to give defense attorney Lisa Middleman more time to prepare her case. No trial date has been scheduled.

     In February 2016, defense attorney Middleman filed a motion to require the prosecution's DNA expert to reveal the source code used to make the computerized DNA match against her client. Allegheny County Judge Borkowski denied the motion. In response, the defense attorney filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Superior Court. As a result, Allen Wade's trial, scheduled to start in March 2016, was delayed thirty days.

     The Wade murder trial got underway on May 3, 2016 in Pittsburgh. In her opening remarks to the jury, public defender Middleman said she will challenge the states's DNA evidence. According to the defense attorney, prosecutors sought out the private DNA analyst after experts at the Allegheny County Crime Lab failed to make an identification. Middleman said her client was the victim of a "sloppy investigation," and a rush to judgment.

   
     

16 comments:

  1. Dr. Wolfe worked with profoundly autistic children, not with domestic abuse victims.

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  2. word on the street is the boyfriend did it. they had a domestic abuse relationship supposedly and the sister walked in on it. that's just what people are saying. he's some big shot supposedly.

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    1. You may be right, I found it odd just now when I was reading, that the police officer was about to leave and the Boyfriend walks up outta the clear blue and has a key. First thing I said before I even read your comment was what? how does he mysteriously show up and what prompted him to just show up randomly, it wasn't like they were missing for days. HMMMMM!!!!

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    2. You're making this up. No tie to boyfriend. You don't even have the facts of the case straight.

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    3. Michelle - that's not what happened at all! The boyfriend, who was her emergency contact at work, had a key, and accompanied the police to the house after Dr Wolfe failed to show. Did you do ANY reading about the actual facts of the case? I guess dirt bag Wade has fans!

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    4. Do you people dream up crap to write??? The boyfriend was cleared, there was NO evidence, not even any accusations of an abusive relationship, and DNA linked Allen Wade to crime.

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    5. Michelle--you obviously haven't read any press reports of the murders. I am not even going to reply specifically to how many things you write are inaccurate, follow the case if you want to know what happened.

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  3. Pittsburgh is probably the best place to have a crime covered up.

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  4. the videos released by DA office is not wade walking down street in early morning hours nor him using atm bank cards. that dude is caucasian; the killer is still at large and wade is framed with no questions with his dark colored skin, petty crime record and felon. and my appetite only ensues for truth and justice foremost, for the families of these beautiful, selfless women. work harder detectives and Pittsburgh bureau.

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    1. You must have some good weed. What the hell are babbling about?

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    2. First off the self-described author is great at copying the criminal complaint, and still can't get the facts straight. Second, the video DOES show a black man getting cash from the ATM machines. There is a hold on executions, for now, not forever. He will be convicted.

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  5. I didn't want this man to be the killer .... but after looking at the video's I think he is. Robbery is not a petty crime so not so difficult to graduate to a murder if the victim is a neighbor and accidentally sees your face. He caused a lot of grief for his family and the victims family.

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  6. I was on the jury..death was too good for this evil monster. God Bless the Wolfe Family.

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    1. Were you really on the jury? I don't want to be a jerk I just want to know. I'm not accusing you - or attacking - I just want to know so that it's real.

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    2. Jim Fisher - have you ever lost someone to murder? Have you ever entered the home of someone who has been murdered? Have you ever seen the blood? Have you ever had to tell someone that their family member or friend was murdered? Have you ever patted a police officer on the shoulder after a difficult day working on a murder case when he or she is fed up with the crimes they see? Have you ever sat in on the sentencing of a convicted murderer who killed someone you loved so much you would die for them? Have you ever attended a Christmas party for the victims of violent crimes year after year after year only to see so many Christmas ornaments added to the tree honoring the dead that they finally have to add a second Christmas tree? And a third?

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    3. Yes, I truley was on the jury..ask away!

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