Wife charged in fatal New Brighton deer-feeding feud - KMSP-TV

Wife charged in fatal New Brighton deer-feeding feud

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Victims Jennifer Cleven (recovering) and Todd Stevens (deceased) Victims Jennifer Cleven (recovering) and Todd Stevens (deceased)

One day after Neal Zumberge was charged with murder and attempted murder after he shot his neighbors amid an escalating feud, prosecutors announced they want to hold his wife accountable too.

MORE: Feud over deer feeding turns deadly in New Brighton

The charges against 50-year-old Paula Zumberge mirror those filed against her husband -- second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. The first charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years for aiding and abetting Stevens' death, and the second carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Paula Zumberge was charged via warrant and turned herself in to New Brighton police on Thursday night.


The content of the criminal complaint filed against Paula Zumberge mirrors the one filed against her husband, detailing how Cleven overheard
Paula Zumberge yell, "Shoot, shoot, shoot -- keep shooting!" while her husband fired his gun.

Cleven was shot in the abdomen, but called New Brighton police to the 2500 block of Knollwood Drive at about 8:30 p.m. on Monday, telling officers, "He shot us! I knew he was going to do this!"

MORE: 'Zumberge was standing there and he had this gun and he was cocking it'

When officers arrived, Stevens was pronounced dead of a gunshot wound, Cleven was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, and Paula Zumberge was nowhere to be found. A neighbor told police they saw a woman drive off in a white vehicle.

Neal Zumberge turned himself in to police shortly after the shooting, and in a post-Miranda interview, he admitted to shooting Stevens with a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot, but said he did not intend to shoot Cleven.

After she was released from the hospital, Cleven told Fox 9 News the dispute between the neighbors had escalated in recent days.


After receiving treatment at HCMC, Cleven told police she saw Zumberge’s son, Jacob, at the Acapulco Restaurant earlier Monday evening, where he accused the couple of causing his father to contract Lyme disease and threatened to burn their house down.

"He came over behind Todd and he shoved him, and he leaned over and said some words -- some threatening words -- to us," Cleven said.

Jacob Zumberge was arrested shortly before 6 p.m. Monday.

PHOTO: Jacob Zumberge

Cleven drove home and was confronted by Paula Zumberge, who said "You f------ b----, you put my son in jail." Stevens overheard the argument and came outside, at which point Neil Zumberge emerged with a shotgun and fired several rounds. Stevens fell to the ground and Cleven retreated the house to call police after being shot in the stomach.

Cleven said she heard Paula Zumberge yelling, "Shoot, shoot, shoot. Keep shooting."

No charges have been filed against Paula Zumberge at this time.


Neil Zumberge told police he had a tumultuous relationship with Todd Stevens, dating back 15 years. He admitted to shooting Stevens with a 12-gauge shotgun, but said he didn't intend to shoot Jennifer Cleven.

PHOTO: Neal Zumberge


Neighbors told Fox 9 News they knew the dispute would likely escalate, but they never imagined it would end in fatal violence.

New Brighton police had been called to the neighborhood in the past to settle arguments, and Police Chief Bob Jacobson said Cleven has an active restraining order against Zumberge.

Jacobson added that it is legal to feed deer in the city.


A fund has been set up to help Cleven offset the cost of her medical bills as she continues to recover from the shooting. Anyone who wishes to make a donation can do so at any TCF Bank by donating to the Jennifer D. Cleven Benefit Fund.

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