Kathleen Steele made national headlines last week after her 13-day-old daughter was beaten to death by her 6-year-old son in Florida. The horrific crime occurred on Monday, August 8 when 62-year-old Kathleen Steele reportedly left her three small children alone, locked in a rental van in the scorching Florida heat for half an hour.
Allegedly, Steele left her three children (a 6-year-old son, a 3-year-old son, and 13-day-old infant daughter) in the vehicle while she went into a business to get her phone repaired. The incident was recorded on surveillance camera, according to authorities.
While Kathleen Steele was inside of the business, her 13-day-old daughter began to scream and cry. It was then that the 6-year-old reportedly removed the baby from her car seat and began to viciously beat the tiny infant. According to police reports, Kathleen Steele’s son slammed his baby sister brutally around the car, punched her and threw her to the ground. When he was done with the assault, he simply placed the infant back in her car seat.
“The skull was cracked in numerous places, described as probably mush … one of the worst things that I’ve ever seen.”
UPDATE: Kathleen Steele officially charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child. Judge sets bond at $100,000. pic.twitter.com/clUKP4Iw5b— Adam Z. Winer (@adamzwiner) August 12, 2016
The beating was so severe that crime scene examiners reportedly found the baby’s blood on the ceiling of the vehicle. Ultimately, the baby suffered cardiac arrest and died of massive head trauma and multiple skull fractures.
Following an investigation into the death of the infant, Florida police charged Kathleen Steele with aggravated homicide in connection with the death of her daughter, also named Kathleen Steele. The elder Kathleen was arraigned in a Florida court on August 11 and later posted bail the required $100,000 and was released from police custody, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
The terms of Kathleen Steele’s release from jail pending her trial reportedly include house arrest and a GPS monitoring ankle bracelet. Steele has also been ordered to stay away from children.
AFTER THE HEARING: Kathleen Steele's lawyer tells reporters, "I have found her to certainly be devastated by this." pic.twitter.com/G0jBiWbROe— Adam Z. Winer (@adamzwiner) August 12, 2016
Despite being out of jail, it has been reported that Kathleen Steele hasn’t returned home. Rather, Steele has reportedly been placed in a Florida mental hospital. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the media on August 13 that Kathleen Steele’s transfer to the mental health center had been handled by jail medical personnel.
The Florida sheriff refused to comment on whether or not her commitment was voluntary or involuntary, citing federal patient privacy regulations.
While Kathleen Steele is facing aggravated manslaughter charges in the death of her 13-day-old daughter, her 6-year-old son (who allegedly admitted to law enforcement that he beat the infant to death) is too young to face criminal charges for his violent attack on the baby.
“We had him show us with a doll, and it was very violent. He was slamming that doll, and it’s terrible.”
Even though Kathleen Steele’s son isn’t facing criminal charges, he and his 3-year-old brother have been placed in the Florida foster care system in separate homes. The boys are in specialized foster care, known as therapeutic foster care in Florida. This means that the foster parents are specially licensed to provide “high-level care.”
In addition to being removed from Kathleen Steele’s custody, the 6-year-old has been removed from his elementary school. At some point, Florida DCFS officials expect Kathleen Steele’s child to return to school but are unsure at this time how his future education plans will be managed. It will likely depend on the child’s future mental and developmental health.
While Kathleen Steele’s infant lost her life as a result of her brother’s vicious attack, the two surviving boys have endured a very traumatic experience that could potentially scar them for the rest of their lives. There had been numerous reports that Kathleen Steele was neglecting or even abusing her small children following the birth of her now-deceased daughter, and it is unknown at this point how well the surviving boys will adapt to their new lives.
Pinellas Deputies show pic of Kathleen Marie Steele, 62. Have to assume she is suspect in death of 2 week old pic.twitter.com/12KTGU70GG— Evan Axelbank Fox13 (@EvanAxelbank) August 11, 2016
The violent murder of Kathleen Steele’s daughter brought to light a situation that is the stuff of tragic tabloid fodder. The 62-year-old woman was on the television program I’m 55 and Pregnant while she was expecting her oldest son, the child now accused of beating her daughter to death. Her youngest two children were reportedly the result of IVF, created using her now-deceased husband’s frozen sperm.
Authorities are reportedly looking into the background of the doctor who performed Kathleen Steele’s IVF procedures as they investigate the death of her daughter and prepare a criminal case against the 62-year-old mother.
[Image via Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department]