Investigation Discovery’s ‘On the Case With Paula Zahn: Text, Lies and Video’ chronicles how 68-year-old Betsy Wiesenfeld was murdered inside her Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania, home in May 2019. While the police arrested the perpetrator within a couple of days, retrieving the victim’s body would take almost a year. If you’re interested in learning how the killer was caught, his identity, and his current whereabouts, we’ve you covered. Let’s begin then, shall we?
How Did Betsy Wiesenfeld Die?
Elizabeth “Betsy” Ann Wiesenfeld was the beloved wife of the late William Wiesenfeld and the loving mother of Kathleen Graham. She lived in her Whitehall Township home in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, in May 2019. The 68-year-old worked as a registered nurse for four decades and was employed as a nurse at SarahCare Adult Day Services, an adult day care facility in Forest Hills, Pennsylvania when she was reported missing. Kathleen recounted how her mother loved being a nurse and how the job brought a lot of satisfaction and joy to her life.
According to Kathleen, the mother-daughter duo had a daily routine where they texted each other in the morning to ensure they were safe. Betsy texted her as usual on the morning of April 30, 2019, and her daughter went about her day. But she was concerned when she tried calling and texting her mother in the afternoon and could not get in touch. Kathleen said the text messages were not delivered, and the calls went straight to the voicemail. Worried, she called Betsy’s workplace and was anxious to learn her mother had not shown up for work.
Betsy’s supervisor, Bee McDonough, stated she had worked with her for over a decade and claimed the 68-year-old always notified the administration if she took a leave or was late for work. Besides, Kathleen highlighted her mother was never a “no-call, no-show” and reported her missing to the Whitehall Borough Police Department. The authorities would find Betsy’s badly decomposed body almost a year later, on April 19, 2020, at a dumping site near Verona, Pennsylvania. Due to severe decomposition, the coroner could not determine an official cause of death.
Who Killed Betsy Wiesenfeld?
According to the episode, Kathleen stated she received a suspicious text from her mother on April 30, 2019, which concerned her. The text read, “I met someone was (sic) leaving now for about a week look after everything at the house please (sic). I’m going to have a good time for once.” Kathleen claimed she had talked with her mother over the phone on April 29 and never mentioned meeting another person or any plans to leave her home. After Betsy was reported missing, the officers went to her house and found the entrance door unlocked.
The detectives noticed no signs of forced entry and checked the bedroom to find the area rug and the bed moved. Police sources claimed red stains that seemed to be dried blood on the comforter and bedpost. In addition, the officers discovered cigarette ashes near Betsy’s bed, though her friends and daughter stated she never smoked. According to the complaint report, her phone, purse, and wallet were reported missing while they located her Toyota Camry in the garage. Moreover, it did not appear that the victim had packed any bags or left hastily.
The detectives checked Betsy’s bank records to find $500 had been withdrawn from her account after she was last heard from. Soon, they checked surveillance footage to find a masked individual using her debit card. The investigators interviewed Betsy’s neighbors, such as Cathy Corrado, to quickly find they suspected Douglas Berry — a former handyman, felon, and suspected drug addict. According to reports, he had previously worked for the victim at her Whitehall home and other rental properties she owned.
Betsy’s closest acquaintances also informed the officers that she stopped hiring Douglas as she was afraid of him, and he allegedly used drugs. The investigators searched his truck and home in the 2700 block of Washington Boulevard in Liberty on May 2 and found a 9-mm gun in his bedroom closet. According to court documents, Douglas was not allowed to legally possess a firearm because of a 1996 conviction for aggravated assault in Berks County. The officers arrested him on the gun-related charge, and he was denied bail while the investigation continued.
At Douglas’ home, the authorities found Betsy’s stolen bank card in a beer can with his fingerprints. They also alleged his appearance matched the man withdrawing money from her bank account using her card. The investigators checked the neighborhood surveillance cameras to find Douglas’ Ford F-150 pulling up at Betsy’s home at 8:39 AM on April 30. According to ADT Security records, her garage door opened at 8:55 AM and closed at 8:58 AM. The video footage showed the Ford F-150 exiting the driveway a minute later.
While Douglas was in prison, two jailhouse informants came forward and told the authorities about his various implicating statements. According to one, Douglas allegedly told him it was crucial for him to get bail so he could “get rid of [a body]” within an hour and showed animosity toward the victim. The other prison snitch claimed he had several detailed conversations with Douglas, where he implied he thought he would be charged with murder since Betsy’s body had not been recovered. He was officially charged with murder in September 2019.
Where is Douglas Berry Now?
Betsy’s daughter and family members kept hoping Douglas would reveal some information regarding what happened to her. Her sister, Linda Valladares, said, “I ask God, ‘Please, let the devil tell where she is so we can have a funeral and say goodbye in the proper way.'” Betsy’s neighbors and friends held on to the hope that she might be found alive. Sadly, their yearning and prayers were tragically broken when a Plumb Borough police officer noticed a human foot sticking out of a garbage bag while on routine patrol in Verona on April 19, 2020.
Lieutenant Venerando Costa of the Allegheny County Police Department stated, “He observed what looked like a shoe in the small tear of a garbage bag. He examined the bag a little bit further and saw what were human remains.” The medical examiner later identified the remains as belonging to Betsy. Douglas pleaded guilty to charges of third-degree murder, burglary, theft, and receiving stolen property in April 2022. He was sentenced to serve 17 to 40 years as part of his plea agreement with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office.
Douglas Berry apologized to Betsy’s family in court and said, “I want everyone to know how sorry I am for the mistakes I’ve made. I’ve learned to pray for forgiveness. I apologize to the family for not doing more, and I apologize to Betsy. I can’t move mountains.” According to official court records, the 51-year-old is serving his sentence at the State Correctional Institution – Huntingdon.