Today a former Wisconsin Sheriff’s Deputy, Andrew Steele, 39, was charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Steele is accused of killing his wife, Ashlee Steele, 39, and her sister, Kacee Tollefsbol, 38.
On August 22, shortly after noon, Tollefsbol called 911 from Andrew Steele’s home in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, and alerted police that her brother in law had shot both her and her sister. She said that she was dying. When a SWAT team arrived at the scene, they found that Tollefsbol in the basement, suffering from a gunshot to her back. She was immediately taken to the hospital where she died within the hour. Ashlee Steele was found in her bed, shot in the head and asphyxiated with a zip- tie. She had a pillow on her chest and a sleep mask on her face.
Andrew Steele was found in the laundry room. The dryer was running, and Steele had re-routed the vent so that it was not blowing outside, but inside the closed room. He also had a small portable grill filled with charcoal, and it appeared that he was trying to kill himself by setting himself on fire. Steele was also clutching a handgun. It has been reported that Steele fought the officers as they tried to save his life and remove him from the room, and also that he showed self- inflicted wounds indicating that he had tried to kill himself.
If convicted for these crimes, Steele faces two mandatory life sentences, although the sad irony in this case is that Steele himself may die before the court proceedings are over, as he has been fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or “ALS.” Steele worked for the Sheriff’s Department for 14 years before he retired in June after he had been diagnosed with the illness. Steele’s former co-workers, friends and family members have all been focused on raising money for his expected medical bills.
People who knew the Steele family say that they were very close, and that Ashlee Steele spent a good deal of time trying to raise the estimated 75,000 dollars needed for Andrew’s medical care. Her primary fundraising campaign was done on Facebook, and Ashlee had already raised more than 20,000 dollars for Andrew when she was killed. Kacee Tollefsbol lived in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. She had gotten married just three weeks ago, and by all accounts was very happy.
A motive has yet to be identified, yet Steele’s attorney is claiming that Steele is mentally unstable, and it is probable that this argument will be used in his defense. Family members and co-workers are shocked by the killings and report that they thought the family was very happy. There had been no previous calls to the police from the Steele home.
Steele is being held in the Rock County Jail, because authorities thought it would be inappropriate for him to be housed in Dane County Jail where all of his friends and former colleagues work.
The judge set the bail at $1 million dollars and ordered that Steele have no contact with his children or any other family members. Steele’s first hearing is scheduled for September 4th.
A memorial service was held for the two sisters this afternoon at St. Michael Catholic Church in their hometown of Stillwater, Minnesota.
If you wish to donate funds to the family, you can do so at any Wells Fargo Branch by referring to The Kacee Tollefsbol Memorial Fund, account #658 421 5997, or the Ashlee Steele Memorial Fund, account #658 421 6003.
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