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Questions Remain in Deaths of Zimmerman Woman and 2 Children

Posted at: 03/31/2013 7:52 PM
Updated at: 04/02/2013 10:18 AM
By: Scott Theisen

Counselors will be available at an elementary school in Zimmerman where students will deal with the loss of two classmates.

Students at Zimmerman Elementary School return from spring break Tuesday. They will likely look for answers as to why 7-year-old Josephine Shields and her 6-year-old brother, Nolan, were found dead on Easter Sunday.

The bodies of the children and their mother, 35-year-old Stephanie Shields, were found in their home by a family member. Authorities say no suspects are being sought in the deaths, but declined to explain. They also won't say how the three died.

Mark Shields moved out of the home within the last week, according to Sheriff Joel Brott. Mark Shields has no criminal record, and there have been no calls for service to the family's home within the last several years, Brott said. 

Mark Shields is a member of the Minnesota National Guard, according to Army Maj. Kristen Auge, spokeswoman for the state's National Guard. He's also married to Stephanie Shields, and the father to Nolan and Josephine Shields.

According to military records, Mark Shields has served with the National Guard since December 1989, Auge said in a statement. He's currently a full-time readiness, noncommissioned officer for the 850th Horizontal Engineer Company. He was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2004 to November 2005.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time," Auge said.

The Sherburne County Crime Scene Team and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are still investigating the case.

Authorities are not currently seeking suspects.

"We're a small-town family, and one of our families lost some loved ones," said Zimmerman Mayor Dave Earenfight. "We're mourning and we'll be praying for them."
    
Earenfight said prayers for the family would be offered at a City Council meeting scheduled for Monday night.

"Josephine Shields and her brother Nolan were part of our Zimmerman Elementary School and we are deeply saddened," Principal Susan Johnston said in a statement released by the school district. Grief counselors are and will continue to be at the school to support students and staff, the statement said.

Zimmerman, a city of about 5,000 people, is about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

Additional details will be released as they become available, according to the sheriff's office.

Photos contributed by Stephanie Miskowiec Shields' Facebook page.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.