Pittsburgh police: Slaying of Iowa Rep. Mary Wolfe's sisters 'a very special case'

Officials say case is being investigated as double homicide

Vanessa Miller
Published: February 10 2014 | 5:30 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:27 am in
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As Pittsburgh police continue to aggressively pursue any leads in the Friday slaying of two sisters, the victims’ Iowa-based family – which includes state Rep. Mary Wolfe – continues to mourn their loss.

“Thank you to my friends and neighbors and colleagues and to Suzy’s and Sarah’s friends and neighbors and colleagues for all of the lovely thoughts and prayers,” Wolfe wrote on her Facebook page about her sisters’ deaths. “We are so grateful. Heartbroken, but grateful.”

Investigators found the bodies of Susan Wolfe, 44, and Sarah Wolfe, 38, on Friday afternoon in the home they shared in Pittsburgh after both of their employers reporting them absent from work, said Pittsburgh police Lt. Daniel Herrmann.

Susan Wolfe worked as a teacher’s aid at Hillel Academy in Pittsburgh, and Sarah Wolfe was a psychiatrist for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Herrmann said. Susan’s employer requested a welfare check at her home after she didn’t show up for work, and Herrmann said Sarah’s coworkers also had texted her boyfriend regarding her whereabouts.

Officers conducted a perimeter check of the home around 12:45 p.m., and they encountered Sarah’s boyfriend, who had arrived around the same time, Herrmann said. He had a key to the house, and when authorities entered, they found the women’s bodies in the basement, according to Herrmann.

The medical examiner’s office ruled their deaths a homicide, reporting they each had a single gunshot wound to the head. Police have not made any arrests in the case, and Herrmann said investigators are following every lead and keeping that information close to the vest.

“We have 12 to 14 homicide detectives chasing leads,” he said. “We are working around the clock.”

Most of Pittsburgh’s homicides are gang or drug related, according to Herrmann. But this shooting happened in a relatively quiet residential neighborhood.

“We are not used to seeing this,” he said. “This is not normal. This is a very special case, and everyone in the homicide squad and on staff is concerned that we find this person.”

Family members, many of whom live in Iowa, have expressed grief and shock via social media. Pierrette Wolfe, of Clinton, identified herself as the women’s mother on Facebook and shared a letter her son – their brother – sent to his colleagues.

In it, he remembers the “healing and light” his sisters brought to those they worked with, and he wrote that “very little is making sense to me or my family.”

He said both sisters “cared deeply about children and the world” and lived lives “dedicated to education and service.”

He said Sarah spent her career “caring for children who had been deeply hurt by violence, abuse, neglect and crime.” And he wrote that Susan had worked in a behavioral disorder classroom in one of the most impoverished, challenging schools in her district.

Herrmann said authorities have interviewed family members as part of their investigation – mostly over the phone, although one member drove up from Washington D.C.

Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Iowa, is serving her second term in the Iowa House of Representatives and is on the human resources, judiciary, public safety, transportation and justice system appropriations subcommittees.

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