She Died in the Hands of Her Daughter After There Were Screams And Thuds

The tragic case of Brenda Powell

PS. I don’t know how to feel about this case. It left me speechless.

Brenda Powell and her daughter — image from

The administrators returned Brenda’s call.

Brenda answered.

Administrators: Is this Brenda Powell?

Brenda: Yes.

There was a very loud scream that followed. Then a thud. Then, an expulsion of air from the respiratory system.

Brenda Was Fifty Years Old

Brenda K Powell was a fifty-year-old woman from Akron, Ohio, USA.

Brenda attended university in Akron. Then, she dedicated her life as a child life specialist at the local children’s hospital. She was devoted to her job for twenty-eight years straight.

Brenda was also a good wife and mother who always made time for her husband, Steven Powell, and children, Sydney and Andrew.

Sydney had a track record of success when she was in high school. She was on the football team and got high grades.

Sydney then attended The University of Mount Union on a partly funded presidential scholarship.

The Powell Family Was a Close Family

The Powell family maintained a close family unit structure.

They used the Life360 app (a communication, location, and alert app that allows people to share locations with each other).

Meanwhile, Sydney’s parents trusted Sydney enough not to track her college progress. Sydney had done so well in high school and earned herself a scholarship.

Sydney didn’t share any details of her performance at school with her parents. She was struggling with her courses. By the end of 2019, Sydney had been suspended from school. She had failed three out of four classes.

Sydney spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve with her family. She didn’t say a word about what was happening.

In January 2020, Sydney went back to school.

Sydney Lived As a Fantasy University Student

Sydney continued living her lies at the university with her roommate, Lauren.

The Mount Union University administrators contacted Sydney. They informed her that they had given her a suspension letter. This meant that Sydney wasn’t allowed into the campus dorms.

In late February, Sydney told Lauren that she was moving away for a while to figure things out.

She spent her days staying in hotel rooms. But Brenda was catching up with Sydney’s lies.

“Why do I always feel like you’re scamming me… Just remember, you need to keep the grades to keep your scholarship.” — Brenda texted Sydney.

Sydney rudely responded, “My grades are good, thank you very much.”

Sydney’s Father Received A Call

Steven got an urgent call from Mount Union University officials on March 3rd, 2020.

They informed Steven that Sydney was no longer enrolled at their university. Steven was shocked. Then Steven got a notification on Life360 that Sydney was home.

Steven left work and headed home to confront Sydney.

Sydney told him that she was having a little trouble at school, but she was still attending classes with her roommate.

Steven encouraged Sydney to go through the semester, and then she could take the summer off. Sydney emotionally told her father how her friends had things figured out, but she didn’t.

Steven then called Brenda to come home and talk to their daughter.

Brenda was an emotionally mature and empathetic mother who knew how to calm people in emotional situations. She had to do the same thing when dealing with her cancer patients.

Steven left Sydney with Brenda and returned to work.

He kept in touch with Brenda through text messages, asking about how things were going.

“What did you discuss with Sydney?” was Steven’s last text message to Brenda. Brenda never replied.

Steven received a Disturbing Call

Steven then got a call from the police informing him that there was a disturbance at his house.

The Mount Union University administrators had called the police to do a welfare check on Brenda. Brenda had left a message with the administrative office asking to discuss Sydney’s situation.

The administrators called Brenda back.

Brenda picked up the phone, and she identified herself. The administrators then heard a loud scream followed by a thud and then an expulsion of air. It was as if the air was knocked out of somebody.

Several more repeated thuds and screams followed.

The administrators kept on asking what was happening, but they got no reply. Then, the call was dropped.

They called back but got no response. They tried calling back again. Then someone picked up.

But the voice on the line claiming to be Brenda was Sydney’s. The administrators immediately knew that something was wrong. So they called the police.

Brenda Was Badly Injured

Brenda Powell and her daughter Sydney — Image from

The police found Brenda with life-threatening cuts and wounds, lying in her pool of blood in the master bedroom.

Brenda had been hit many times with a cast iron frying pan and stabbed repeatedly with a steak knife. The kitchen tools once used by Brenda to cook family meals had been weaponized against her and laid by her side.

Sydney was down in a fetal position at the end of the driveway. Her eyes were rolled back. She continuously scratched the ground until her fingers started bleeding.

Unfortunately, Brenda didn’t make it. She died as a result of blunt and sharp force injuries.

Sydney stated that there was a break-in.

But it soon turned out that Sydney had staged a break-in by smashing a window. In reality, she was trying to cover up her mother’s murder.

Sydney had hit her mother over and over again on the head with the frying pan. Then she fetched a steak knife and stabbed Brenda more than twenty-three times in the neck.

Brenda’s arms and hands had wounds that showed that she tried to defend herself during the attack.

The Aftermath

Sydney was arrested.

She was charged with Brenda’s murder, felonious assault, and tampering with evidence.

Steven begged for his daughter’s charges to be dropped, stating that Brenda wouldn’t want that to happen.

“I don’t know why we’re doing this…This isn’t what anyone wants here. I don’t know how she can handle it.

I’m trying to keep my family together.” Steven stated.

Sydney’s attorney argued that Sydney had mental health issues.

They brought up that three psychologists examined Sydney and concluded that she was schizophrenic. And Sydney killed her mother whilst in the middle of a psychotic break.

But the prosecution pointed out that Sydney’s staging of the scene meant that she was mentally alright.

A medical psychologist for the prosecution diagnosed Sydney with borderline personality traits and unspecified anxiety disorder. However, the psychologist concluded that Sydney had no psychotic episodes before, during, or after her mother’s murder.

Sydney pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. But the jury found her guilty of her mother’s murder and the other charges.

Twenty-three-year-old Sydney was sentenced to life behind bars with a minimum of fifteen years in September 2023.

Final Thoughts

The children patients at Akron Children’s Hospital were also heavily affected by Brenda’s murder. Brenda was like a mother to them.

“She was like a second mom to me and the mom at the hospital. She treated us like her own children.” Brenda’s former cancer patient stated.

A short phone call revealed Sydney’s secrets in an instant and turned the peaceful, close Powell family into a bloody mess. All that could’ve been avoided if Sydney had accepted her failures and opened up to her parents.

Sources: Beaconjournal, The Decoder,, The