Jake Wesley and Susan Jill Creighton lived in the same Fifth Avenue apartment complex in Carnegie. In the spring and early summer of 1994, Creighton, 35, who lived alone, had told friends and family that Wesley, whom she did not know, made her uncomfortable and had been tampering with her lights and cable television connection.
On June 29, 1994, Wesley entered Creighton’s apartment through a bedroom window, bound and raped her, stabbed her, and beat her with a baseball bat. The killing was particularly brutal. Co-workers alerted police when Creighton did not report to work the next day.
After the killing, Wesley stole Creighton’s car and drove around Pittsburgh trying to withdraw cash from banks using her ATM card. He was only able to withdraw $230.00. His image was captured by a security camera.
On July 1, Wesley contacted police to offer assistance in the case. Police interviewed him about the crime but did not arrest him. He called the police a second time that same day, offering additional information about the case. He was interviewed a second time. He contacted police a third time the next day, and was interviewed again.
Wesley was arrested on July 6, 1994 after police obtained evidence linking him to Creighton’s bank account. Once in custody, he provided a taped confession that attributed the killing to his LSD use. DNA found at the scene matched Wesley, an unemployed cable installer with no prior criminal record, no evidence of family turmoil, and no history of mental illness.
Presented with Wesley’s confession, fingerprints, DNA evidence, and ATM photographs, a jury convicted Wesley of first-degree murder on January 23, 1996. Based on evidence of torture and the commission of multiple felonies related to her murder, he was sentenced to death plus 30 to 60 years in prison the next day.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated Wesley’s death sentence on June 19, 2000, citing prosecutorial errors during the penalty phase (Commonwealth v. Wesley, 562 Pa. 7). Specifically, the state failed to provide notice to the defense of its intent to prove Creighton had been tortured; an element of the murder that made Wesley eligible for the death penalty.
Jake Wesley was resentenced to life in prison without parole on March 27, 2001. He died in prison on August 17, 2019.