Invisible Children

Sakenlo Jr., Sakenya, and Sakendra Steele

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.

Sakenlo Jr. Sakenya, and Sakendra Steele
The Steele family

14-year-old Sakenlo Shawn Steele Jr., (b. 2009), 12-year-old Sakenya Syretha Steele (b. 2011), and 9-year-old Sakendra Syann Steele (b. 2014) were shot to death as part of a murder-suicide by their mother, Ethel Steele. The children were homeschooled. 

Steele was a nurse whose relatives described her as “a single mother who homeschooled her three kids” with the help of her mother, who was not named as a target of the investigation. A neighbor described the Steeles as “very reclusive,” noting that Sakenlo, Sakenya, and Sakendra only occasionally left the home to play with the other children in the neighborhood. Steele’s brother D’Mon Robinson noted that “The kids were outgoing… We have a cheerleader. We have an artist, also an anime artist.”  The children’s godfather reported the murders took place immediately after the family’s return from a vacation in Florida.

A man on FaceTime with Steele at the time of the murders, likely the children’s father, called 911. Responding officers determined that Steele shot and killed each of the children sequentially before killing herself. Evidence indicates Sakenya may have witnessed the murder of her little sister.

Date: April 11, 2023
Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina


Documents: Date:
Mother kills three children, then herself in murder-suicide in Winston-Salem 04-11-2023
‘Reclusive’ mom shot and killed her three children aged 9 to 14 before killing herself at their North Carolina home: Cops are seen comforting a sobbing man at the scene 04-11-2023
‘I’m in a nightmare and I can’t wake up’: Mother kills her 3 children in triple murder-suicide 04-12-2023
‘This was a beautiful family:’ Family of Winston-Salem mother and 3 children found dead in home want answers 04-13-2023