Steve Wolfgang, 46, is a father of two elementary school age children. Neighbors describe him as “He was the type of guy who had a lot of friends, the type of guy you took a liking to. He was easygoing, just a laid-back person.” “I can’t see him hurting a fly.” Steve was a coal miner, but after hurting his back at work he was often in intense pain. But neighbors say that didn’t stop him from being a friend and helping out when he could.
Four years ago he married Sherry, 42. The mother of two adult children, Sherry was working in a shirt factory, but she quit to stay home with Wolfgang’s two children. Neighbors describe her as “happy-go-lucky.”
Neighbors say the couple appeared to get along well. They tended a vegtable garden together, camped, and visited with neighbors.
Monday at 12:07 pm firefighters responded to a report of a vehicle fire. As they were extinguishing the blaze, Steve Wolfgang came out of the woods. He told firefighters it was his car and that he set it on fire. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries and was later arrested for arson. During that time it was determined that Sherry Wolfgang was missing.
After his arraignment on the arson charges, Wolfgang spoke with reporters. He denied knowing the whereabouts of his wife. He allegedly stated “I think she left me,” “I couldn’t raise my children without her. I wanted to die.” He denied knowing what happened to his wife and said he thought she left him.
According to one report Wolfgang told family members that he and Sherry had been drinking and had begun arguing. That Sherry said she was leaving and packed her bags and taken her wedding rings off. That he had passed out and when he woke he found Sherry gone and her packed bags still at the home.
Sherry Wolfgang’s family did not buy the story. As Sherry’s sister pointed out, both Sherry’s vehicle and Wolfgang’s vehicle were accounted for as well as the fact that he had dropped her packed bags off with family members.
Search’s were begun for Sherry Wolfgang in both the wooded area where the vehicle was located and a nearby creek. Searchers were contending with cold temperatures both with the air temperature and with the water temperature at about 40 degrees. The water is murky and rapid. There risk’s for the searcher’s of hypothermia, of falling into the water.
Currently Wolfgang is being held on charges of 2 counts of arson, and one count each of risking catastrophe and criminal mischief.
Despite the denials to reporters and family members, court documents show that Wolfgang may have been telling the police a different story. Allegedly at the hospital Wolfgang told state police that he and his wife had argued. Allegedly he had knocked her down, attempted to strangle her and shoved towels in her mouth. In the affidavit police stated “When that failed Steven then knelt on his wife’s chest and began to strike her chest with her knees” and that she died. He allegedly put her into a metal trunk, took it to the creek and threw it in. Allegedly he also left some clothing at the scene along the creek and that has been recovered. And allegedly before driving his wife’s body to the creek, Wolfgang left a note in the kitchen of the home admitting his guilt.
Wolfgang has not been charged with the murder of Sherry Wolfgang. According to the district attorney he cannot place a charge of murder until the body is found. “Under Pennsylvania law, you cannot arrest someone on a confession alone.”
Steve Wolfgang’s children are now with relatives.
It is often hard to admit. But ‘nice’ people do sometimes commit murder. And if faced with a crime they do lie to friends, relatives, and police. Sometimes even when faced with overwhelming evidence they will continue to lie about a crime.
Here, Wolfgang is accused of telling the police what happened, but of continuing to lie to the public and to relatives. Many times the thought of facing censure from family and friends is worse than the thoughts of going to prison.
With no charges for the murder, he is being held only on the arson. But if convicted on the arson, there will be time for the body to be found. And discarded bodies have a habit of popping up unexpectedly. Though you can count on additional trauma to the person who locates the remains. In the meantime, searchers are facing risks in order to try to locate her remains and give the family justice and the body of their loved one.
Though they have an idea of what happened, until her remains are found family will have no way to bury their loved one, no place to go to mourn the one they lost. And no recourse to justice for the crime that he allegedly has admitted to.