ME: 2 children drowned, mother's death a suicide
ZIMMERMAN, Minn. (AP) — Two young siblings found dead in their home were drowned and their mother likely committed suicide, sheriff's officials in eastern Minnesota said Tuesday.
The Sherburne County Sheriff's Department said autopsies showed Josephine Shields, 7, and her brother, Nolan, 6, were drowned and that their deaths have been ruled homicides.
The body of their mother, Stephanie Shields, 35, was found Sunday along with her children in the family's home in Zimmerman, sheriff's officials said. The mother's death has been ruled a probable suicide, pending toxicology tests, according to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office, which conducted the autopsies.
A neighbor of the Shields family called 911 after discovering the bodies in their home about 10 a.m. Sunday, the sheriff's department said.
Shields' husband and the children's father, Mark Shields, moved out of the family's home last week, said Sheriff Joel Brott. Mark Shields was a sergeant first class in the Minnesota National Guard, according to a statement the military released Monday.
The children attended Zimmerman Elementary School where grief counselors were made available to students returning from spring break Tuesday.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension helped Sherburne County sheriff's deputies investigate the case.
Zimmerman, a city of about 5,000 people, is about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.