Retired Deputy With ALS Suspected of Killing His Wife & Sister-in-Law

Andrew Steele

Andrew Steele is a retired sheriff's deputy, whose career was cut short by ALS, but even with an advancing debilitating disease, he seemed to have the utmost support of his family and friends. His wife Ashlee Steele even manged to raise a good portion of their $75,000 goal for his medical care by enlisting loved ones to participate in the recent Ice Bucket Challenge that's overtaken social media in the past few weeks.

Now in an unthinkable twist, he's the prime suspect in the killing of his wife and her sister, Kacee Tollefsbol, in their home in Fitchburg, Wisconsin. Police say that Steele is being treated for an apparent suicide attempt and are shocked by the unfolding events.

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Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said Monday, "Nobody closely aligned with Andy and his family expected something like this to occur ... we believe his diagnosis had an impact on the family but they were moving forward."

Thirty-nine-year-old Steele had been a deputy since 1998, but stepped down in June after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. The degenerative disorder attacks nerves cells and can lead to complete paralysis and death. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is just two to five years.

Even with such a terrifying diagnosis, an outpouring of love seemed to put Steele in good spirits. Thirty-nine-year-old Ashlee's Facebook wall was reportedly flooded with videos from family and friends doing the Ice Bucket Challenge in her husband's honor, and they had already raised $23,000 through their "Tough as Steele -- Taking Down ALS" campaign via the website GiveForward.com.

Earlier this month, Andrew Steele told a local news outlet, "I never would have expected the type of reaching out people have done ... people that have donated, people that I don't even know very well, I haven't seen or talked to in years. It's hard to describe that."

Although Steele is the prime suspect in the apparent murder and attempted suicide, he has not yet been charged, and prosecutors have not said when that may happen. Both women were shot and killed. The Steeles has two children, and Tollefsbol, 38, had four.

"We're trying to understand what could possibly have gone wrong and resulted in the death of two young women and the fact that there's now six children without a mother," Mahoney said.

A lot of people are questioning what happened the night these two women were killed and Steele was injured. Elsa Gumm, staff coordinator at the church where Ashlee volunteered to teach 3-year-olds, said she was "full of joy in general" and "made kids and parents alike feel at ease."

She said she had never met her husband, so she couldn't offer any insight as to why he might hurt his wife and family like that. "That's the big question in our minds as well," she said. "What we keep turning to is we may not get answers to those questions, so we just cling to our hope in Jesus Christ."

What a tragic situation. Illness and especially fatal diagnoses can lead people to do some truly awful things, and even if Andrew didn't pull the trigger, he's now going to have to face his recovery from his wounds and manage his ALS without his wife by his side. Absolutely heartbreaking.

Do you think a fatal diagnosis can lead a person to do terrible things they wouldn't otherwise?

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, please get help. Call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).


Image via Dane County Sheriff's Department

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