she told police, and walked away. Several other classmates also asked Andrew about his intentions, and his response was similar. It was out of concern for Andrew, according to the alarmed friend, that a group of them had gathered around Andrew on the back patio when Mr. Gillette came over and asked them to come inside.
Andrew is the youngest of three sons born to Jerome J. Wurst and Catherine Wurst. Andrew’s oldest brother is Peter, who was 19 in April 1998. His other brother is Patrick, who was 16. Mr. Wurst was married previously and had two sons by his first wife who are several years older than Andrew and not a real presence in his life.
Jerome Wurst, who was 61 at the time, is the owner of a nursery and landscaping business in McKean, north of Edinboro. For Jerome Wurst, his business has been a seven-day-a-week proposition, with each work day ending long after sundown. He is what could be called “old school”— a hard-working breadwinner, a strict disciplinarian, and a reserved and emotionally guarded man who is sometimes gruff and irritable. He expected all three of his sons to work hard, be self-reliant, and keep out of trouble. Importantly, there was no evidence of any of the three boys receiving abusive or neglectful treatment in the home.
It is striking that the characterizations of John Gillette that we heard echoed what we had been told about Andrew’s father. Gillette moonlighted as a bricklayer and builder, trades similar in some ways to Wurst’s landscaping work. Like Andrew’s father, Gillette worked long hours that took him away from his family. Remembering him, a school colleague told us, “[John] liked to joke that he worked as a teacher part time and worked as a builder the other 16 hours a day.” Both men also had a reputation for strictness and occasional irritability. Another person who knew Gillette said, “He was a big, strong guy—an authority figure. He was kind, but in terms of discipline, he ran a tight ship.”
Catherine Wurst, 20 years younger than her husband, met him when she went to work at the nursery. Where he is quiet and reserved, she is extroverted and outspoken. Other parents thought of her as a normal mother. She read to her sons. She worried about their grades. She made sure they dressed nicely for school, even as they got older. She gave them responsibility for chores around the house. One parent who knew Andrew said that he always seemed very happy to see his mother when she came to pick him up. Almost daily, Andrew’s mother told Sadoff, she and her son told each other that they loved one another. More recently, Andrew’s mother was working at the nursery in the afternoons, which meant that Andrew sometimes spent time at home alone. Apparently, it