Rachael DelTondo, a suspended Pennsylvania teacher, was gunned down and killed in her family’s driveway late Sunday night on Mother’s Day. The horrific crime took place in a quiet Aliquippa neighborhood, just outside of Pittsburgh. Police have not named a suspect in her death and would not comment to the media about whether they had interviewed any suspects. DelTondo had been suspended after a police report was leaked regarding an encounter between her and an underage student from another school. Here is what you need to know about DelTondo.
1. Rachael DelTondo Had Received Death Threats Before She Was Shot in Her Family’s Driveway, & Investigators Say She Might Have Known Her Assailant
Rachael DelTondo, 32, was shot after telling family that she was coming home from getting ice cream with a friend, WPXI reported. Around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, police were called to the scene on Buchanan street, where DelTondo had been shot just after getting out of her car. Neighbors said they heard 10 to 12 gunshots. She died at the scene. (Note: her name is sometimes misspelled in media reports as Rachel DelTondo, after a post by the local mayor accidentally spelled her name without the second “a.”)
According to Beaver Countian, DelTondo had gotten ice cream with two friends, including the daughter of an Aliquippa police officer, before she was shot. Her friends had dropped her off at her parents’ home, where she was living at the time, shortly before she was killed, unnamed sources told Beaver Countian. DelTondo had told Beaver Countian previously that she had received multiple death threats, including one that promised she wouldn’t live to see the end of 2018. She reported the threats to authorities.
The coroner ruled her death a homicide, saying she died of multiple gunshot wounds to her chest. District Attorney David Lozier said that investigators are trying to retrieve information from a cell phone that may shed light on the case. He did not say whose cell phone they had. Later reports indicated that investigators might actually be sending multiple cell phones to a lab in Harrisburg to unlock data and texts, CBS Pittsburgh reported.
Investigators won’t say if they have a suspect, but they currently believe that she did know her assailant. They told CBS that they believe evidence will reveal this was a “crime of a passion.” However, they did not elaborate on why this might be the case. Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier only added that from what they know at the moment, the neighborhood should not be fearing a random killer. Investigators are reviewing surveillance tapes from the area and investigating everyone who drove anywhere near her house that night.
Friends and neighbors said DelTondo was friendly with everyone. Dan Casper, a family neighbor, told CBS News: “I don’t know why that happened. I really don’t… Beautiful lady, friendly, knew everybody, talked to everybody.”
Mayor Dwan Walker told WPXI: “Mrs. Del Tondo was a bright light. She didn’t bother anyone. She didn’t hurt anyone.”
2. She Was on a Paid Suspension from Her Teaching Job After Police Found Her in a Car with an Underage Student
Last fall, she was suspended with pay from her teaching job at Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School after a confidential police report about her and a former student was leaked. According to the report, DelTondo and the 17-year-old were found in a parked car near the Aliquippa hospital around 2 a.m. in February 2016. Police officers were patrolling the area at the time when they found them. Police noted in the report that “the windows were steamed over and the engine was not running.” DelTondo said she was talking to a former student who was upset, but the teen had never been registered at PA Cyber, where she worked.
DelTondo was engaged at the time. DelTondo told police that the teen was upset and they were friends who were just talking. She said she didn’t want her fiance to know because he would get mad. Police drove the teen home and no charges were filed.
Beaver Countian shared what the police report said, in part:
As I approached the drivers side of the vehicle I noticed that the windows were steamed over and the engine was not running […] I again asked [Rachael] Deltondo what she was doing parked where she was with [the 17-year-old] in the car. Deltondo again stated that she was there just talking with [the teenager] and that he was once a student of hers. I asked Deltondo if she was me what would she think was going on at this time of the morning with a vehicle parked where she was parked. Deltondo replied that she understands and that she didn’t want her fiance to know that she was here parked because he would get mad. I told Deltondo that I did not know who her fiance was, at which she stated [name]. I advised Deltondo that I know a lot of [names] at which she then advised that her fiance was [name]. Deltondo continued to maintain that she was called by [the teen] and that he was upset and needed someone to talk to […] Upon contact and speaking with [the teen] he advised that he was just hanging out and that he and Deltondo are friends […] Deltondo was advised that there was better places to just talk with a former student and that I would hope that I wouldn’t find her parked anywhere else in Aliquippa with former students at such a late hour just talking. Deltondo did get in her vehicle and left the area.
Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (also known as PA Cyber) was founded in 2000 in Midland, Pennsylvania. Cyber charter schools are online charter schools popular among families whose students need more flexibility in scheduling. These schools often give students a chance to continue extensive sports or music schedules without also hurting their academic progress. PA Cyber provides an online education for K-12. According to their website, PA Cyber is one of the “largest, most experience, and most successful online public schools in the nation.”
On the Rate My Teachers site, DelTondo only has one review, a one-star rating. The review was written in December 2017, after she was suspended.
Brian Hayden, the CEO of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, released a statement about DelTondo’s death. He wrote: “We were saddened this morning to learn of the tragic death of Rachel DelTondo, apparently the result of a violent incident in the City of Aliquippa. We have no additional information beyond what is being reported by local media. We express our sympathy to her family, friends, and coworkers. Ms. DelTondo was employed by PA Cyber but on a paid suspension.”
3. DelTondo’s Name Was Leaked After School Officials and the Media Received an Anonymous Email Containing the Police Report
Since DelTondo was never charged, her name wasn’t released. In fact, the police report wasn’t public knowledge until the media and PA Cyber officials received an anonymous email in October 2017 that included the 2016 Aliquippa police report, Times Online reported.
The email included the police report and a note that DelTondo and the teen had a “relationship” over text messages and Snapchat messages. The email did not include any evidence of messages between the two individuals and it’s not known if the existence of these messages has been verified outside of the email. The email address itself was fraudulent, and attempts to respond were returned as undeliverable.
After receiving the email, her school announced that she was being suspended and “removed from the classroom pending an investigation.” She was suspended with pay.
Brian Hayden, CEO of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, said that because he is a mandatory reporter, he had to notify Pennsylvania Childline when he received the email, even though it was about an incident that had happened nearly two years earlier. Childline is part of a mandated statewide child protective services program, which transmits information to appropriate investigative agencies.
Hayden said he was not aware of the incident until he received the email. “Nobody, including Ms. Deltondo, the Aliquippa Police Department, the juvenile male or his family, or any other person or agency had informed PA Cyber of this or any other incident,” Hayden told Times Online.
WPXI reported a slightly different version of the story, saying that Channel 11 found out about DelTondo’s name after the mother of the former Aliquippa High School student talked to them about the incident. Channel 11 chose not to release DelTondo’s name at the time because she was never charged.
Beaver Countian was one of the media sources that received the anonymous email. They said the email read, in part: ““Attached you will find a police report outlining a incident where a currrent [sic] PA Cyber school teacher was caught with a former student in a vehicle. Copies of this report are being filed with Pa Cyber, the Aliquippa School District, Children and Youth Services, the Department of Education and several news outlets.”
The email included records from county, state, and federal law enforcement databases. The attached police report was unredacted and included Social Security numbers and other confidential information, such as the teen’s state ID number, photo, and signature.
Beaver Countian reported that they later received a second email from the same individual with additional allegations. The email read, in part: “The reason this report was not filed in February 2016 with the Aliquippa School District, Children and Youth Services and a mandated report to the Department of Education was because it was an attempted cover up.” Beaver Countian reported that because of the incident number assigned to the report, it appeared that it might not have been filed into their Visual Alerts records management system until a year later.
Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier said the leak was from someone who had a personal vendetta against DelTondo. He told CBS: “It’s shameful that this woman was painted with a police report that had been written that did not result in criminal charges. It was a personal vendetta against her at the time.”
4. The Leak Sparked a Statewide Investigation into the Aliquippa Police Department
The leak led to a state investigation of the Aliquippa Police Department, and DelTondo cooperated with that investigation, CBS News reported. Documents included in the leak were DelTondo’s unredacted police report and printouts from the Beaver County Emergency Service’s Computer Aided Dispatch System, the Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Network, the Pennsylvania Justice Network, and the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, Beaver Countian discovered. Law enforcement officials confirmed the documents were authentic. The documents were marked “for official use only” or “authorized users only.” BC noted that officers have to undergo specialized training before accessing these types of documents, and warning boxes appear each time an official logs into the systems. The scanned documents appeared to be part of a case file.
Beaver Countian reported that DelTondo was a confidential source for them as they investigated the City of Aliquippa. Although they never released her name until after she was killed, they said that she had told friends and others about her role. Beaver’s report about the leak of her police report led to the investigation of the Aliquippa Police Department.
Beaver Countian noted that DelTondo had been cooperating with investigators from the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Organized Crime office. DelTondo had retained attorney Blaine Jones to represent her as she worked with police, Beaver Countian reported. In March, the Aliquppa Municipal Building was raided by Pennsylvania State Police investigators after a second confidential source reported about alleged improprieties involving city officials, according to Beaver Countian.
Beaver Countian later determined that media and school officials weren’t the only people to receive the leaked police report and other records by email. They stated that the documents were also sent via email or text to personal acquaintances of DelTondo and other residents of Aliquippa.
In a later report in December, BC noted that the Pennsylvania State Police had restricted the Aliquippa Police Department’s access to the Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Network (CLEAN) pending an investigation. This was one of the networks that was a source of the leaked information emailed to multiple people.
Beaver County Emergency Services Director Eric Brewer told Beaver Countian that his agency was cooperating with the investigation. “My agency has nothing to hide. This leak did not come from the Beaver County 911 Center. We are fully cooperating with the Pennsylvania State Police in their investigation and have already turned over records to them. We take CLEAN security in the highest regard.”
5. DelTondo Was Featured in a Local News Report After a Bridal Shop Wouldn’t Refund Her $10,000 Dress from Her Broken Engagement
Last year, DelTondo was featured on a Get Marty report in a dispute over her custom wedding dress. According to the report, her family wanted to go big when DelTondo got engaged. Her mom, Lisa DelTondo, bought her a $10,000 wedding dress from Anne Gregory Bridal in Dormont. It was handmade by a New York designer and required a non-refundable $4,000 deposit. But four months later, DelTondo and her fiance called off the wedding. Their wedding was canceled a few months after she was found in the car with the student, but before her name was made public.
Lisa couldn’t get a refund, so she agreed to pay the balance with the hope that she could sell it. But the salon owner, Gregory Cherico, never delivered the dress to her and never refunded her deposit. After not appearing for a hearing, Cherico was ordered by a court to pay the DelTondos $4,600. But he never did that either, so they reached out to Get Marty for help. Cherico eventually did refund the money, but with a note that said “Marty had nothing to do with this refund!”
In recent months, Rachael DelTondo had been trying to clear out her closet and sell many of her items on Poshmark. One listing, updated on May 7, was listed for “$100000000” and was labeled “Clearing out my closet.” “Everything must go. Make offers and create bundles,” she wrote. On her Poshmark bio she wrote: “Hi! I’m Rachael. First, I would like to state that I accept all reasonable bids because most of the items I am selling were only worn once , in almost perfect condition or not used at all. I am trying to clean out my massive closet. Any offer is better than no offers at all !! Some of my favorite brands are Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, PINK Victoria’s Secret, CHANEL, and Nike. Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave me a comment so that I can check out your closet too. :)!” From her post, it appears she was just trying to make room so she could add some updated purchases. Many items were marked down on May 7.
This is a developing story.