Woman allegedly killed by stepson hired divorce attorney before attack, records show

Sue Ellen Anselmo, 39, died Monday

EUSTIS, Fla. – A pregnant woman hired a divorce attorney the day before police say she was strangled by her stepson at a Eustis cemetery, according to court records.

Eustis police said Sue Ellen Anselmo, 39, died Monday afternoon at Orlando Regional Medical Center. The victim's daughter, Dejah-thoris Waite told News 6 in an email she was declared brain dead then taken off life support.

Records show Anselmo's mother, Cynthia Miller, filed a petition for appointment of an emergency temporary guardian in Lake County Court last week.

Anselmo had "hired a family law attorney to initiate dissolution of marriage proceedings against her husband on March 2019," according to the petition.

"She recently moved herself and her minor children out of the marital home due to fear for her own safety and the safety of her children," Miller wrote in the petition.

Julieana Alvarez, who lives across the street from the family's home,  said she often worried about Anselmo.

 "I always knew something was going on in that house," she said.  

Officials with the Eustis Police Department said Ian Magnus Anselmo, 21, called 911 last week and said, "I killed my mom, she's dead," according to an arrest warrant filed by Eustis police detectives. He also said, "I strangled her," 911 calls revealed.  

Police said they arrived to find the victim in the driver's seat of a car, bleeding from the nose and mouth with a cord wrapped around her neck. Lake County paramedics took her to Advent Health Waterman Hospital in critical condition where medical staff were able to resuscitate her.

Investigators said they learned at the hospital that the woman was six weeks pregnant and her family, including the suspect, knew about the pregnancy. The arrest warrant does not state why the victim and her stepson were at Greenwood Cemetery.

Police said Ian Anselmo told them at the scene that his dad was going to be very upset.

Ian Anselmo was initially charged with attempted second-degree murder and aggravated battery on a pregnant victim, but police said Monday that detectives will work with the state attorney's office to charge him with second-degree homicide.

The victim's mother said she was "a beautiful, kind, loving woman with a dazzling smile that lit up the room."

She also loved to sing and sang at church and community events.  

"She had a voice like an angel," Miller said.  

She was Miss Eustis, Teen Miss Lake County and America's Little Darling, according to Miller.  

For 21 years, Sue-Ellen Anselmo was a hairstylist and she dearly loved her clients and co-workers, her mother said.

"Her senseless, tragic death has left many broken hearts and lots of questions that may never be answered," Miller said.

Sue-Ellen Anselmo had six children and three stepchildren that she raised, according to her family. 

"There has been a tremendous outpouring of love and generosity from the family," Miller said.

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.