By Reg Chapman

ZIMMERMAN, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s a tragedy the parents themselves can’t understand. And yet they have to try to explain to their children why their classmates won’t be in school Tuesday, the first day back after spring break.

All day Monday, investigators were going in and out of the red home on the corner of 5th Avenue South and 12th Street West after three people were found dead in the home Sunday morning. The Sherburne County Sheriff says no one is in custody, and they are not looking for any suspects connected to the three deaths.

The victims were identified Monday as Stephanie Shields, 35, and her two kids, 7-year-old Nolan Shields and 6-year-old Josephine Shields. The Minnesota National Guard confirmed Monday that Sergeant First Class Mark Shields was Stephanie’s husband and the father of Nolan and Josephine.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office released new information Tuesday morning that they’re investigating the incident as a double murder-suicide. Authorities said Stephanie Shields drowned her two kids before she committed suicide.

Neighbors told WCCO that Mark had recently moved out. There is now a growing memorial outside the home in memory of the people who died.

“We were trying to explain things to her. We said just a few of the pieces of information but not in full detail and she was trying to understand. She’s like well they’ll just be back tomorrow and I said unfortunately honey they are not going to be back tomorrow,” said Elisa Ploof, a mother of a classmate of the two kids.

The Zimmerman Elementary School Principal released a statement Monday, saying they are deeply saddened and have grief counselors and resource materials available for families to help them cope. Stephanie Shields worked in human resources at Fairview Health Services.

Fairview released a statement extending their heartfelt condolences to the Shields family for their tremendous loss.

Reg Chapman

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