By Zondra Hughes
On social media, Ronnell and Keianna Burns had it all: Wealth. Beauty. Influence. A loving blended family, and a network of ambitious mentees who were willing to grow old (and rich) with them. The successful duo (their businesses included Primerica insurance, 6 Figure Ambition entrepreneurial program and Kritique Designs Beauty and Barbershop), recently moved from St. Louis to Atlanta to expand their empire.
In the couple’s private life, however, their relationship was fragile.
Around 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 6th, police say that after a domestic dispute, Keianna shot Ronnell to death and then took her own life.
The independent news outlet, Voice of the People STL, broke the story.
“According to reports, around 9 pm on Saturday, November 6th, the teenage daughter reported a domestic violence incident to the police from a location other than her home. Police were dispatched to the couple’s home located in Sandy Springs, GA, approximately an hour outside Atlanta.
Reportedly, upon the arrival of the police, the neighbors indicated they heard gunshots coming from within the home. Upon entry, the police found the couple deceased.”
In a statement, Sgt. Salvador Ortega of the Sandy Springs Police Department told The Christian Post:
“This is still in the preliminary stages of the investigation, but I can confirm this to be a domestic violence incident where a wife shot and killed her husband and subsequently committed suicide. No one else was present at the home when this incident happened.”
In Their Own Words: RONNELL
No one knows for sure why the tragedy happened, but in a series of posts, Ronnell and Keianna left clues about their personal struggles.
In a moving testimony posted to Facebook well before the tragedy, Ronnell stated that he and Keianna agreed to divorce, but keep the businesses intact so they wouldn’t disrupt their family or employees that depend on them.
“About seven months ago, my wife and myself decided that we were going to get a divorce, that …we were just done with each other,” Ronnell says in the video. “God put us on this earth to inspire people to go and be great, but we’ve got crap too. But when we go through our crap, we’re not giving up, quitting or letting go. Even if we are going to go off track and not do it together, the purpose of our life is to inspire and to be change agents for people.”
Ronnell said that after divvying up their businesses and planning their cordial transition into exes-yet-still-business partners, the two decided to fight for their marriage.
Then they packed their bags and moved to Atlanta.
At the 6-month mark of being a Georgia resident, Ronnell filed for divorce.
On Monday, November 1st, Ronnell reached out to realtor Tracy L. Wiggins about buying a new home. After learning that Ronnell and Keianna were deceased, Wiggins posted: “Ronnell reached out to me Monday & we chatted by text Wednesday concerning finding a new place near their home so the baby could stay in the same school. I’m just floored.”
On November 4th, at 12:49 a.m., Ronnell updated his Facebook profile picture.
In Their Own Words: KEIANNA
On October 20th, Keianna hosted a Facebook live chat and revealed that she needed prayer.
“I just felt the need to just hop on here and kinda talk about life changes. For those that don’t know, about five, six months ago, my husband and myself we moved to Atlanta to expand our business. Still have the beauty and barber salon in St. Louis Missouri, but we did come here to expand,” she said.
Keianna revealed that behind the scenes she was struggling; she was in a new town, trying to learn the culture, and rear her children—and that strong, successful, women who motivate others have ‘gloomy’ days, too.
“The transition, it wasn’t necessarily a smooth one. It wasn’t horrible but it was something that we chose to do,” Keianna said. “When you come to a new state or city and you’re trying to learn people and you’re trying to learn the things that they do they could be challenging. And coming here with our kids, it’s just us and our kids …”
Keianna continued, “Right now my husband is at a retreat. I stayed back because we have our children here. However, I just hopped on here because you have to be prepared for life changes no matter what it is that is taking place. I’m trying to encourage someone because things in your life can change for the good or the bad overnight literally. And if you don’t feel like you are a strong enough individual, some things may take you out.”
On October 22nd Keianna updated her Facebook profile picture.
On October 23rd, Keianna posted: “GOD knows I would do ANYTHING to Wake Up From This Nightmare. #GodINeedStrength”
On Saturday, November 6th the day of the tragedy, Keianna posted a video dancing with her daughter, a pretty, bright-eyed, snaggletooth little girl. “Man, I LOVE this LIL girl so MUCH!” she wrote.
Hours later, Ronnell and Keianna would be gone.
Family members and some of the couple’s mentees are not satisfied with the official murder/suicide narrative.
In a Facebook live post, a relative says that she believes someone else was in the house, during the murder or immediately afterwards. The relative makes this assumption because the Burns family had a surveillance system in their home, but the cameras were tampered with, and video footage was deleted. The relative also says the family filed a police report because the house was robbed of ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth’ of expensive items.
That’s not the worst part. The worst part, hands-down, is that the audio of Keianna’s suicide was allegedly posted on Instagram.
After the tragedy, someone updated a June 20th video post on Keianna Burns’ Instagram page and added the audio of her suicide. The video text reads, “INSIDE THE MIND OF A WINNER.”
In the audio, a female is out of breath, and, in shock, she mumbles ‘What the f–k,’ then there’s a loud gunshot and her body falls to the floor. Keianna’s cousin said that it was Keianna’s voice on the Instagram post, and that she was outraged that someone would post it. (Out of respect to their children, I will not post the link here.)
Several people with ties to the Burns are pointing their fingers at an attractive 28-year-old woman who lived with the couple for a month in Atlanta. The couple took this woman under their wing and referred to her as their ‘business daughter.’
Surviving members of the Burns family have filed a police report about the robbery and encourage anyone with information about the stolen goods to contact Sandy Springs police at 770-551-6900.
There is so much shock and heartbreak surrounding this tragedy because the Burns, by all accounts, really wanted to help others. They were authentic. They wanted their success story to be replicated, and many lives were better because of them.
Ronnell had star power, (he previously made national waves when he appeared on Divorce Court with his ex-wife), and he used that power to encourage his audience to think outside the box to accumulate wealth.
Keianna’s words carried so much weight with her audience because she used her platform to connect with people.
“Like real talk, I have some very positive people on my timeline, and they help me through my gloomy days because, yes, I do have them. Honestly if I’m being totally perfectly honest, I’m having one right now,” Keianna said on her October 20th Facebook chat.
“And the reason I’m going live is sometimes you gotta reach out and tell people that you need love. You need support, you need care. You just need a hug. And honestly you guys, I need that,” she said. “I need that right now.”
Together, Ronnell and Keianna Burns provided a real-world example of a young Black couple that had big dreams and made them come true.
This is not how it was supposed to end.
The couple leaves behind eight children, a tight-knit family, and scores of mentees, friends, and associates.
They also leave behind a large social media footprint dedicated to building wealth, maintaining spirituality and providing opportunities for others.
I pray that, in time, how Ronnell and Keianna lived—and not how they died—will ultimately be their legacy.
For more info about the Burns, follow the Facebook Group, Ear 2 The Streets STL.