Cold Case: Steven Russo

The Seneca Valley teacher was found shot to death in his home along Perry Highway in Lancaster Township on Nov. 24, 2010.

Steven Russo, 48, was a popular statistics and calculus teacher at Seneca Valley High School in Jackson Township, Butler County.

Students liked his style, including that he used March Madness brackets to teach the statistical probability of winning. a page called "I Love Mr. Russo and His Russo-isms" on Facebook.

That Facebook page turned into a place where students poured out their sympathies and memories after Russo was found shot to death in his home along Perry Highway (Route 19) in Lancaster Township on Nov. 24, 2010.

A neighbor told the Post-Gazette that Russo had returned from school for lunch the day before and discovered an intruder in the home. The person just ran out of the house, the neighbor said. At the time, the only thing missing appeared to be a cat that belonged to Heidi Smith, with whom he lived.

Russo moved into the house earlier that year after filing for divorce from his wife of 24 years in July 2010. But, according to the Cranberry Eagle, his family claimed that decision had nothing to do with Smith.

They also revealed that shortly before his death, Russo was planning to move out of the house that Smith, a second-grade teacher in the Mars Area Elementary School, had originally rented for herself. The home was in a rural area north of Zelienople abutting Schott Lane, a narrow, dirt road.

Police said Russo was shot in the side of his head with a small-caliber gun and an autopsy put the time of death between 7 and 10:30 a.m. that Thanksgiving eve.  Nov. 24, 2010. His daughter found him dead on the kitchen floor when she stopped by the house later that day.

The Cranberry Eagle reported the home was not ransacked. Antiques and a flat-screen television remained, as did Russo's wallet, which was found in a bedroom.

Police found signs of a forced entry, but haven’t determined whether that incident and Russo’s death are related.

KDKA-TV reported at the time that Pennsylvania State Police were looking for a pedestrian who may have been walking on state Route 19 near the Log Cabin Restaurant on the mornings of Nov. 23 and 24.

In April 2011, five months after Russo's murder, state police returned to the scene, hoping to find some new clues in the case, according to KDKA-TV. State police said they were investigating a possible suspect.

They searched the area between the home where Russo was found dead and the nearby Log Cabin Inn in hopes of finding evidence before spring foliage began appearing. At the time, police asked for information from anyone in the Zelienople area who had seen something unusual at that site since Russo's death.

Russo was the father of two and served as a 1st lieutenant in the U.S. Army during Desert Storm.

Now, nearly two years since his death, there have been no arrests in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the Pennsylvania State Police, Butler Barracks, at 724-284-8100.


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