HIGHLAND PARK (CBSDFW.COM) - Investigators say a homeowner stabbed himself to death and hurt his wife early Wednesday morning during a bizarre sequence of events that has left the family and community stunned.
First police were called to a home in the 3200 block of Cornell Avenue just after 4 a.m. When officers arrived they found one person, later identified as 50-year-old John Rodman Steele, dead of stab wounds. Authorities also found John Steele's wife, Dina, and the couples two children inside the residence. Dina Steel also had knife injuries and was taken to Baylor Medical Center.
Initially authorities had received two 911 calls from inside the $2 million mansion. Police have released the 911 calls from the disturbance.
The first 911 call is from the 16-year-old son of John and Dina Steele. It is obvious the boy is upset and distracted, but he manages to ask for help before there is loud yelling, pleading and some type of commotion.
The second call is from Dina Steele, during which she speaks of her husband stabbing her and how they got the knives away from him.
Police began to investigate the incident but determined early on that there had been no intruder at the home.
"Nothing about this investigation leads us to believe that entry was forced and another actor came in and committed the stabbings," Highland Park police Sgt. Lance Koppa explained initially. "[It's believed] that everything occurred between the parties that were inside the house and so now it's just up to our witnesses, Mrs. Steele and the two children, to provide that information to help us put it all together."
Sergeant Koppa had also said that the crime scene spanned several rooms of the house. "That's something they would have to look into, is which room it initially started and then what rooms it moved into, and then ultimately where it ended."
By early Wednesday afternoon police had the opportunity to speak with Dina Steele and the couple's 16-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter. From those interviews authorities have been able to determine what happened in the early morning hours of July 11.
Police now say Dina Steele was asleep when she woke to find her husband standing over her, with a knife. Mrs. Steele told police her husband, John, attacked and stabbed her, but that she somehow managed to fight him off.
The commotion apparently woke the couple's 16-year-old son, who then ran into the room, grabbed his father and wrestled the knife away from him.
The family then says, John Steele ran downstairs to the kitchen.
While the elder Steele was out of the room the teenage boy called 911 and afterwards went downstairs. That is where the boy said he saw his father using kitchen knives to cut and stab himself.
Again, the teenage boy intervened and attempted to get a knife away from his father. It was at that point that John Steele reportedly collapsed from his injuries. Police also made it clear that at no point did John Steele ever attempt to injure his son.
Police say they found no evidence of drinking or drug use at the house, and in fact said they'd never had contact with the family.
"There is simply no history at this address, with our department, that would indicate any such call, any type of violence, any type of domestic disturbance/dispute. We have no history of that," Sgt. Koppa stated.
Dina Steele remains hospitalized. Her injuries aren't believed to be life threatening.
Before learning of the chain of events inside the house, family members and friends gathered at the scene and spoke of how "sweet" the Steele family was, how active they were in the church and the volunteerism of Dina Steele.
Family friend Anthony McClure told CBS 11 News, "It just doesn't make sense at all. None of this makes sense. This is a tragedy. These are really wonderful people. None of this makes sense to me."
John Steele was a businessman, who among other things owned the BMW of the Permian Basin car dealership in Midland. His body has been taken to the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Officer where an autopsy will be performed and toxicology tests run.
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