Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

Police North Carolina found three children fatally shot inside a Winston-Salem home, as well as the body of their 40-year-old mother, who appeared to have killed herself on Tuesday, officials said.

Officers responded to the home shortly before noon for a report of a shooting. Officials forced their way inside upon arrival.

Inside, officers found 40-year-old Ethel Syretha Steele, dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Her children — 9-year-old Sakendra Syann Steele, 12-year-old Sakenya Syretha Steele and 14-year-old Sakenlo Shawn Steele Jr. — were also found dead from apparent gunshot wounds.

Police described the investigation as a “homicide.”

On Wednesday, Ethel Steele’s aunt Wanda Caton spoke on behalf of the family, asking the public to respect the family’s privacy and expressing their shock.

“Right now the family still has more questions than answers as to what led to this,” Caton said. “She was a sweet caring mother who loved her children, and, as a nurse, she cared for her family and her patients from the bottom of her heart. This was not representative of the Ethel that we know, her friends know, her teachers know.”

Caton allowed the media to see Ethel Steele’s degrees: a bachelor of science in nursing from Winston-Salem State University, a bachelor of arts from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte and two certificates of completion from Forsyth Technical Community College for completing the Paralegal Technology Litigation and Family Law curricula. She added that Ethel Steele worked as a nurse with Novant Health and as a traveling nurse.

“What drove this scene, we don’t know, but we ask, from the bottom of our hearts, let the police do their jobs,” Caton said. “Don’t have the rumors going. If you don’t know her, don’t make a comment. That will help make things easier for everyone, and I thank you for just understanding that Ethel was a beautiful, well-educated, loving mother, loving sister, loving daughter, who took care to the utmost of her children.”

Steele lived at the home alone with her three children, raising them as a single parent, the family said. She had been homeschooling her children since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. They estimated that the family had lived in the home for about three years.

“The kids were outgoing,” said Dmon Robinson, Ethel Steele’s brother. “We have a cheerleader. We have an artist, also an anime artist.”

Caton said the family traveled extensively, including trips to Hawaii, California and New Orleans.

They had just gotten back from Florida on Friday, Robinson said, which is also the last time he had spoken to his sister.

The case remains under investigation, police said.

Police say there is no threat to the neighborhood, and they are not searching for any suspects.

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com