Before she disappeared, Betsy Wiesenfeld allegedly told family she had stopped hiring the handyman because she was afraid of him

By Harriet Sokmensuer
April 21, 2020 05:35 PM
Elizabeth Betsy Wiesenfeld
Credit: Allegheny County Police

The body of a Pennsylvania woman who disappeared nearly one year ago has been found — and her handyman is facing charges.

On Sunday morning, a Plum Borough police officer patrolling an area known for illegal dumping and off-road vehicle use noticed a garbage bag with a tear in it and a shoe inside, according to a police news release. Upon further inspection, the officer realized the bag contained what appeared to be human remains.

The following day, Allegheny County authorities identified the body as 67-year-old Elizabeth “Betsy” Wiesenfeld, District Attorney Stephen Zappala said in a press release. Her handyman, 47-year-old Douglas Berry, has been charged with criminal homicide for the alleged slaying.

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Wiesenfeld was reported missing from her Whitehall home on April 30, 2019, according to Zappala. Before she disappeared, Wiesenfeld had told family members she had stopped hiring Berry because she was afraid of him, an arrest affidavit obtained by WPXI states.

Wiesenfeld’s daughter reported her missing after she received strange text messages from her mother saying she was going on a vacation. But it was Berry who sent the texts, authorities allege.

douglas berry
Douglas Berry
| Credit: Allegheny County Police

Blood was found in Wiesenfeld’s bed and through their investigation, police learned a person wearing a mask had allegedly used Wiesenfeld’s debit card at a local bank. During a search of Berry’s truck, authorities found a ski mask, a blood stain on the steering wheel that had been washed and stains on the back passenger seat.

“He was there looking for money. Did he intend to hurt her, much less take her life? I don’t know that,” Zappala claimed of Berry’s alleged motive, WPXI reports.

Neighbors of Wiesenfeld told KDKA they believed Berry took advantage of Wiesenfeld.

“I’ve been praying for them to find her body, I have been. It makes me sick to think about it,” Cathy Corrado said.

Others said they had remained hopeful for her safe return.

“I was really upset because there was still hope that she was alive,” neighbor Theresa Manning told the station.

PEOPLE was unable to reach Berry’s attorney. It’s unclear whether Berry has entered a plea.