PRICE — Nearly 43 years after a woman was found shot to death inside her home outside of Price, an investigator is taking a fresh look at the case that stumped detectives in the 1970s.
David Brewer, a sergeant with the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, said he hoped to get to the bottom of the June 24, 1976 death of Paula Scartezina, then 27 years old.
“Scartezina was found in her bedroom, on her bed, deceased by her husband, who arrived home approximately 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon with a 22-month-old child just wandering about the house,” Brewer said.
Brewer said there were no signs of forced entry and initial theories surrounded a possible suicide or some sort of accidental shooting somehow involving the toddler, Scartezina’s son, but the medical examiner at the time ultimately determined the death to be a homicide.
“I am pretty much 99.9 percent positive that the 22-month-old had nothing to do with it, nor was it suicide,” Brewer said. “I took all the evidence up to the lab. I’ve got nightgowns, blankets, everything she had on her at that time. I want them to tell me how far away that gun was when it went off so I can see if it was well out of arm’s length.”
Brewer said Scartezina had been shot in the chest, and the handgun that was used was found well away from the woman’s body.
“The single-action Colt revolver that was used, it was found half-cocked again on the nightstand,” Brewer said. “A 22-month-old kid, I don’t think, is going to pull the trigger on the gun. I think they’re going to drop that gun and start running around, but I don’t think they’re going to pick it up, half-cock it again and set it on the nightstand.”
The last paperwork in the case was dated in 1979 and the case went cold after that, according to Brewer.
The sergeant started looking into the case about 6 months ago after he came across an old box of evidence while helping to rearrange the department’s evidence room.
“It was just stuffed in a corner and had no case report associated with it, so I started digging through it and saw the Scartezina name and started asking around the office,” Brewer said. “It took off from there.”
Brewer said the woman’s relatives have always held onto hope that answers would be found.
This wouldn’t be the first decades-old case that Brewer has solved.
His reexamination of the circumstances surrounding the July 30, 1970 rape and killing of Loretta Jones in Price led to an arrest in 2016.