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Authorities ID Woman, 2 Kids Found Dead In Zimmerman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Investigators are trying to find out what happened inside the Zimmerman home where a mother and her two children were found dead.

The Sherburne County Sheriff's office identified them today as 35-year-old Stephanie Shields, 7-year-old Nolan Shields and 6-year-old Josephine Shields.

Authorities were called to the home just after 10 a.m. Sunday when their bodies were discovered by a family member inside the home, located on the corner of 5th Avenue and 12th Street.

Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott said all three were dead when authorities discovered their bodies.

Authorities have released very little information about the incident, but said that they are not seeking any suspects. Their bodies were sent to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner for an exact cause of death.

This tragic situation has led to one of the hardest talks Elisa Ploof has ever had to have with her 6 year old: explaining why her daughter's classmates won't be at school Tuesday.

"And she's like, 'Well, they'll just be back tomorrow, right mom?' And I said 'Unfortunately honey, they're not going to be back tomorrow,'" Ploof said. "We're trying to understand it and it's just…some things you just don't ever understand.'

Community member Peggy Harlander says what went on inside the Shields' family home is now the focus of her small town.

"It's our neighborhood. It's our neighbors. It's our community, so it affects everybody," Harlander said.

In a statement, Zimmerman Elementary Principal Susan Johnston says the school community is deeply saddened by the news. She says grief counselors and resource materials will be available to help families cope.

"We've been bracing the children that tomorrow might be a hard day for them, and also for the staff," Johnston said.

Sheriff Brott says there is no one in custody, nor are they looking for any suspects tied to the three deaths.

"There's not a lot of details, so right now it's just speculation," Brott said.

The Minnesota National Guard confirmed Sgt. 1st Class Mark Shields is Stephanie Shield's husband and the father of Nolan and Josephine. Neighbors told WCCO that Mark had recently moved out.

A growing memorial sat outside the home Monday night, a reminder of the lives taken too soon.

"I was trying to explain it to my daughter that, you know, bad things happen to good people," Ploof said. "The children went to heaven and God's going to make them better and kind of get through the whole thing."

Stephanie Shields was an employee in human resources at Fairview Health Services. Fairview released a statement saying, "We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Shields family for their tremendous loss."

Sheriff Brott says the investigation is proceeding and further information is expected Tuesday.

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