Watch CBS News

Handyman Named Suspect In Whitehall Woman's Disappearance

LIBERTY BOROUGH (KDKA) -- Police say they are now calling the person-of-interest questioned in connection with the disappearance of a Whitehall woman a suspect.

Elizabeth Wiesenfeld, 67, of Whitehall, disappeared nearly a week ago. Her daughter reported her missing.

On Tuesday morning, police named 47-year-old Douglas Berry a suspect in her disappearance. However, no charges in connection with her disappearance have been filed against him at this time.

douglas berry
Douglas Berry (Photo Credit: Allegheny County)

Police say Berry worked as a handyman for Wiesenfeld.

"Elizabeth owned a number of properties around the area, and she employed Mr. Berry as a handyman to work on those properties. So that gave the familiarity with Elizabeth and her home," said Insp. Andrew Schurman, of Allegheny County Police.

Detectives said her debit card was used by a masked person at an ATM in Whitehall. Police now say they believe Berry was that man, and took about $500 from her account.

KDKA's Lindsay Ward reports --


It was on Tuesday, April 30, when Wiesenfeld's daughter reported to police about her mother not showing up for work. Something she said is unlike her to do.

A family member received a strange message, reportedly saying that she was leaving for a week.

Neighbor Kathy Corrado called that the first red flag.

"From what the detective said and he rushed over. But when he saw the dog is still there and her car then he knew something was wrong and he called Whitehall police," she said.

Police say when they arrived at the missing woman's home in Whitehall Borough they found blood in her bedroom.

"We took samples from that home, that are now in our lab to determine what they are," said Schurman.

"They asked if I heard any screams or if I saw anything, which I didn't that evening and we were home," neighbor Debbie Rizzo said.

Rizzo says she say nothing out of the ordinary.

Watch Meghan Schiller's report --


Days later, detectives say it was a combination of clues that led them to issue a search warrant on Berry's property in the area of Lincoln and Liberty Boroughs.

"Roughly, it's 200 acres. And we had drones, horses, dogs and humans all through that area, with no success," said Schurman.

Police also found a gun inside a nightstand while serving a search warrant on Barry's home. They say he's a convicted felon and is not allowed to have a firearm. That put him in jail, for now on a gun violation.

Detectives say Berry is not cooperating with police, but his girlfriend is cooperating with investigators.

Search crews and investigators are combing Berry's approximately 200 acres of property off of Washington Boulevard, but so far, police say they have not found anything associated with Wiesenfeld.

Elizabeth Wiesenfeld
Elizabeth Wiesenfeld (Photos Courtesy: Allegheny County Police)

Michael Wiesenfeld, the missing woman's stepson, describes his stepmother as a good, Christian, forgiving woman.

"She'd never run off and leave her daughter. Her daughter was her world," Michael Wiesenfeld told KDKA's Ralph Iannotti Tuesday night.

Michael Wiesenfeld says Berry came to mind when he found out his stepmother had disappeared.

"When we heard that Betsy was missing, we were like, wonder if Doug was involved?" he said. "I knew he was doing some side work for her because she owned some rental properties."

According to Michael Wiesenfeld, Berry was "volatile," "hot-headed" and "bad-tempered."

"He had grabbed my one son, he was probably 20 years old at the time, and he grabbed him by the neck and told him about his shoddy work or something like that. And then, a second occasion, he threw a brick at my youngest son," he said.

Michael Wiesenfeld said he lived two doors down from Berry in Liberty Borough several years ago and he often saw Berry burning trash on his property. Neighbors in the area where Berry lived before he was arrested by County Police on the gun possession charge said they also noticed him burning items just last week.

The investigation continues.

Anyone with information on Wiesenfeld's whereabouts is asked to call the Allegheny County Police tipline at 1-833-255-8477. Calls can be made anonymously.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.