Florida man murders pregnant stepmother in a cemetery, calls 911 to confess: 'I strangled her'

21-year-old Ian Anselmo was initially charged with second-degree attempted murder and battery on a pregnant woman but will see an upgrade in the charges after his stepmom's death


                            Florida man murders pregnant stepmother in a cemetery, calls 911 to confess: 'I strangled her'

A Florida man allegedly strangled his pregnant stepmother at a cemetery this past week, with police still struggling to determine a motive.

Reports said 21-year-old Ian Anselmo was arrested and charged after his stepmother, 39-year-old Sue Ellen, died following the unprovoked attack, with a bizarre 911 call the suspect made being the only lead investigators currently have. 

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Anselmo told the 911 dispatcher, "I killed my mom, she's dead. I strangled her," prompting police to respond to the Greenwood Cemetery in Orlando.

On arrival, deputies found Ellen, a mother to five other children, bleeding and unconscious in the driver's seat of her red Chevrolet Trailblazer with a cord taut around her neck. Anselmo was sitting in the passenger seat.

A GoFundMe has been set up in Ellen's name to raise money for her children (Source: GoFundMe)
A GoFundMe has been set up in Ellen's name to raise money for her children (Source: GoFundMe)

However, contrary to his claim, she was still alive. She was rushed by Lake Emergency Medical Services to the AdventHealth Waterman Hospital in Tavares with a faint pulse and later transferred to the Orlando Regional Medical Center, where she was declared dead.

Before she passed away, prosecutors charged Anselmo in the assault of his stepmother in a probable-cause affidavit but did not state a motive. Anselmo was initially booked into the Lake County Jail on charges of second-degree attempted murder and battery on a pregnant woman but will see his charges upgraded following the death of his stepmother.

The charging document also did not offer up much detail, noting that the 21-year-old was "difficult to understand in the 911 recording but he mentioned something about being in an argument."

He reportedly told officers at the cemetery that his dad, 41-year-old John Anselmo, was going to be very upset. "This whole thing seems so weird," John was quoted saying when asked about the incident. "We’re just racking our brains trying to figure out what happened."

But it has emerged that there were troubles at home. Court documents show Ellen had hired a divorce lawyer the day before she was strangled, with John admitting that he and his wife had separated but claiming they would have eventually worked it all out and reconciled.

Anselmo has been charged in connection to his stepmother's death (Source: Lake County Sheriff's Office)
Anselmo has been charged in connection to his stepmother's death (Source: Lake County Sheriff's Office)

It was not a view shared by Ellen's mother, Cynthia Miller, who filed an emergency petition in Circuit Court in Lake County to become the temporary guardian for her daughter's health-care decisions as she lay dying.

In the petition, she described John as "a person of interest in the investigation" and doubted he would "make decisions that are in [Sue Ellen Anselmo’s] best interests..."

The petition also alleged that Ellen moved out of the home she shared with John along with her minor children "due to fear for her own safety and the safety of her children." 

It is a charge John denies, insisting he had never hit or threatened his wife or children and countered it by saying that it was Ellen who sometimes hit him.

Police have refused to confirm or deny if John is a suspect. 

A GoFundMe page titled 'For the love of Sue Ellen' has been set up to help her parents with "any expenses that arise for the children, medical or legal needs." It has raised $22,184 of the target of $30,000 at the time of writing.