By all accounts, Ashlee Steele was her husband’s biggest advocate and love of his life, serving as manager of his effort to raise nearly $75,000 to cover medical expenses associated with his recently diagnosed ALS.
Authorities say her husband, retired Dane County Sheriff’s deputy Andrew P. Steele, shot and killed 39-year-old Ashlee Steele and her sister, Kacee M. Tollefsbol, 38, of Lake Elmo, Minn., on Friday in their Fitchburg home.
Andrew Steele, 39, was arrested Friday.
A woman who answered the phone at the home of the women’s family members in St. Marys Point Sunday night said that the family still was sorting through the events and had no comment.
Fitchburg police were called to the couple’s home in the 3000 block of Yarmouth Greenway Drive about 12:15 p.m. Friday. They found one woman dead. The other later died at the hospital. Police also found Steele inside the home. He was hospitalized for his injuries. Police wouldn’t say whether the injuries were self-inflicted.
No charges had been filed against him as of Sunday and officials have not discussed any suspected motive. The Dane County medical examiner ruled the deaths homicides.
Diagnosis in June
Steele was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, on June 4.
His family had started a fundraiser called “Tough As Steele — Taking Down ALS” to help raise money for medical and other expenses.
The fundraiser for Steele, which appeared to have been removed from the Give Forward website as of Sunday, described his journey since his diagnosis.
“Earlier this year, Andy noticed a twitching in his arm muscles that wouldn’t stop. Eventually his speech became impaired with slurring and difficulty articulating his words,” the fundraising website said.
He couldn’t work and retired from the Dane County Sheriff’s Department in May.
The loss of his income had been crushing to the family, according to the website.
As of Saturday, supporters had raised nearly $23,000 in donations toward the $75,000 goal of the fundraiser. There were 62 days left to raise the full amount. Money was supposed to go to specialized medical equipment and other expenses that the family had to pay for out of pocket. The campaign had received at least 266 donations by the time it was taken down.
Steele also spent some time after his diagnosis pouring buckets of ice on his friends and family who submitted themselves to the now viral “ice bucket challenge” to raise money for ALS.
Ashlee Steele was listed as the team captain and funds manager and also wrote updates on her husband on the fundraising website. On the site, she was described as “the love of his life.”
The couple had been together for 26 years. The two met when they were 12 in Saginaw, Mich., and later attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison together. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in child and family studies. They married after they graduated in 1998. He began working for the Dane County Sheriff’s Department and she worked for a large financial institution.
The two have a teenage son, Jack, and a daughter, Rachael. Ashlee Steele took time off to be with the kids before she started working as a preschool teacher at Christ Memorial Lutheran Preschool in Fitchburg in 2008, according to the school’s website. Her biography describes her as “happily married.”
The department is expected to release an update Monday.
Staff Writer Anthony Lonetree contributed to this report.