Woman Drowns Her Two Young Children Before Taking Her Own Life

drownThe wife of a Minnesota National Guardsman drowned her two young children before taking her own life in a tragic murder-suicide, authorities said Tuesday.

The bodies of 35-year-old Stephanie Shields, 7-year-old son Nolan and daughter Josephine, 6, were found by an unidentified family member inside their Zimmerman, Minn., home on Easter Sunday.

Guard member Sgt. 1st Class Mark Shields had moved out of the house within the last week, Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott told the St. Cloud Times.

Autopsies of the children reveal Nolan and Josephine died from freshwater drowning, the sheriff’s office said. Toxicology tests on their mother are still pending.

“We’re a small-town family, and one of our families lost some loved ones,” Zimmerman Mayor Dave Earenfight said. “We’re mourning and we’ll be praying for them.”

Students at Zimmerman Elementary School, where Nolan and Josephine attended, returned from spring break on Tuesday.

“Josephine Shields and her brother, Nolan, were part of our Zimmerman Elementary School family and we are deeply saddened,” Principal Susan Johnston told Fox 9 in Minneapolis.

Mark Shields, the father of both children, has served in the Minnesota National Guard since 1989, deploying “in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from Sept. 2004 to Nov. 2005,” according to a statement.

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