Friends, family take solace in prayer after Highland Park suicide




Posted on July 12, 2012 at 11:10 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 13 at 11:07 AM

Highland Park stabbings

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HIGHLAND PARK - The Highland Park woman who survived a knife attack at her husband's hands wrote a note to her church family, telling them she feels their prayers and those prayers will get them through.

It is not where any of them planned to be Thursday night, but it is where they felt they had to be: together, inside Highland Park United Methodist Church.

"It's all you can do," said Bill Zukoski, a friend of Rod and Dina Steele's. "It's how you get through it."

The Steele family volunteered, worshiped, and prayed at the church, so the church family gathered at a special service to pray for them.

Wednesday morning, police say Dina Steele woke up as her her husband of 26 years began attacking her with a knife. She was injured, but is out if the hospital now. Police say Rod Steele then stabbed himself, with the couple's 16-year-old son trying to stop him.

"The preliminary report from the medical examiner is that the cause of death was self-inflicted stab wounds to the chest," said Highland Park Police Sgt. Lance Koppa. "The manner of death was suicide. Our investigation will be ongoing. We won't stop. We want to a comprehensive understanding of what took place."

He said it could be weeks before toxicology tests are complete, which will determine if Rod Steele had any medications or chemicals in his system.

"That may or may not add to what happened," he said. "We just don't know."

The events of Wednesday morning do not sound like the Rod Steele friends and family knew. They remember a successful businessman, loving husband, and leader of a father-daughter bible study at Highland Park United Methodist Church.

Before the service at church, Bill Zukoski, his wife, Karen, and their daughters attended a private bible study vigil at a neighborhood home.

"We sang, we prayed," Mr. Zukoski said. "It's what Rod and Dina would have wanted."

"We remembered how much we loved Rod, the man he was," Karen Zukoski said. "The strength he provided his family is sustaining them at this time."

She said the Steele's son stopped by the group meeting, and she gave him a hug.

People inside the sanctuary said about 200 people attended the service at Highland Park United Methodist. It ended with the pastor reading a note from Dina, according to Mrs. Zukoski.

"[The note] said Rod was a devoted father, and a faithful, wonderful husband. [That] she knew about the service and said she felt the prayers," Mrs. Zukoski said.

"She said the prayers will get them through," Mr. Zukoski added.