HARRISBURG Man is suspect in killings of daughters, wife
Police believe the three victims were killed Christmas Eve.
HARRISBURG (AP) -- A man awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused his daughters is a suspect in the execution-style slayings of the two daughters and his estranged wife, authorities said, although no arrests have been made nearly a week after the three bodies were found.
Ernest Wholaver, 42, was released after being questioned about the shooting deaths last week at a state police barracks in western Pennsylvania. Wholaver was to go to trial in January on charges that he molested the daughters, both of whom told police they feared he might harm them after they reported their allegations in July.
"Certainly he is a suspect," said District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr. "However, we must examine all possibilities."
Wholaver's attorney, Spero T. Lappas, declined to comment on the investigation Tuesday.
The women -- Jean Wholaver, 43; Victoria Wholaver, 20; and Elizabeth Wholaver, 15 -- each suffered a single gunshot wound to the head, apparently on Christmas Eve, according to the Dauphin County coroner. They were found Christmas morning at their home in Middletown, 15 miles southeast of Harrisburg.
Free on bail
Ernest Wholaver is free on $100,000 bail on charges ranging from rape to aggravated indecent assault, and had been ordered to stay away from Victoria and Elizabeth as a condition of his release. His alleged abuse spanned from 1987 to 1998 with Victoria, and from 1995 to 2001 with Elizabeth, according to charges filed by Marsico's office.
Marsico would not say how many suspects have been questioned, but said Wholaver is "someone we would look at closely, based on the pending charges and prior statements."
Investigators were performing ballistics tests on several guns that were taken from the home, but Marsico said he did not believe the murder weapon has been recovered, "not that we're aware of."
And although no charges have been filed, police still believe the killings were not random, Marsico said.
"That's our theory at this point," he said. "We want to make sure we have sufficient evidence to prove a case against whoever the perpetrator might be."
Victoria Wholaver's 9-month-old daughter, Madison, was found unharmed at the home and is currently staying with her father.