In the wake of Friday's double homicide at a home in Fitchburg, friends are remembering a woman who they describe as a prominent member of the community.
Fitchburg police confirmed Saturday night 39-year-old Andy Steele is in custody as a suspect in the double homicide at his home on Yarmouth Greenway Drive this weekend. Officers found his wife, 39-year-old Ashlee Steele, dead inside their home. Ashlee’s sister, 38-year-old Kacee Tollefsbol, was taken to the hospital and later died from her injuries.
Andy Steele is a former deputy for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and recently retired after being diagnosed with ALS. He has been seen on TV taking part in the ice bucket challenge to raise money for the cause.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told News 3 no decision has been made on whether his office will handle any case brought against Steele. He said a determination of any potential conflict would happen after the Fitchburg Police Department refers any charges to his office. It's unclear when that may happen as officials say Steele remains under medical care.
Ashlee’s parish and place of work, the Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, remembered her fondly Sunday as news broke of her death.
"It was just a waiting game," Pastor Jeff Meyer said. "Waiting until finally this morning, hearing what we suspected."
"It's extremely hard, it's very difficult, it's tragic," he said. "It's horrible, it's all the adjectives you can use to describe it."
Ashlee was more than a faithful member of the church -- she worked as a preschool teacher there as well, making the news especially hard for this parish.
"I will remember Ashlee as a very positive part of my life, as a friend I knew I could always count on," said Karen Hettenbach, director of the church preschool. "As a teacher that I strived to be all the time, more like Ashlee, more open with the kids and just very loving."
With classes scheduled to begin in just two weeks, Hettenbach said Ashlee's absence will be keenly felt.
"I've been in contact with all of my teaching team, I wanted them to hear it from me," Hettenbach said. "We're rallying together as I know we would, and as I know Ashlee would want us to do."
"I think we were rallying around them, I think the Steele family was doing a great work of making ALS a prominent thing in our family, understanding it and understanding the need for raising funds to find a cure," Meyer said. "I think we're at the stage that we’re going take this head-on and work at it together."
Donations that will go to the children of Ashlee Steele and Kacee Tollefsbol can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank branch, under the "Ashlee Steele Memorial Fund" or "Kacee Tollefsbol Memorial Fund."