Lawmaker charged with ‘breaking into stepmother’s home to steal dad’s ashes’ stripped of committee assignments

Nicole Mitchell claimed she was checking on a ‘loved one’ and also retrieving her father’s ashes during the alleged burglary

Martha McHardy
Monday 29 April 2024 17:04 BST
Minnesota state Senator Nicole Mitchell pictured in mug shot
Minnesota state Senator Nicole Mitchell pictured in mug shot (Becker County Sheriff's Office)

A Minnesota state senator who allegedly broke into an elderly relative's home to steal her father's ashes has now been stripped of her committee assignments as she faces growing calls to resign.

Democratic state Senator Nicole Mitchell, 49, was arrested at her stepmother’s home in the 700 block of Granger Road in Detroit Lakes at around 4.45am last Monday.

According to a criminal complaint, she was found dressed in black clothing and a black hat and admitted that she had entered through a basement window.

Ms Mitchell allegedly told investigators that she had entered her stepmother’s house because she hoped to retrieve items of “sentimental value”, including pictures, a flannel shirt and her father’s ashes.

She was arrested and charged with first-degree burglary.

Ms Mitchell later denied the burglary allegations, writing in a Facebook post that she went to check on “a loved one” with Alzheimer’s after learning of medical information which caused her “grave concern”.

“Like so many families, mine is dealing with the pain of watching a loved one decline due to Alzheimer’s and associated paranoia,” she wrote.

“Unfortunately, I startled this close relative, exacerbating paranoia, and I was accused of stealing, which I absolutely deny.”

Minnesota state Senator Nicole Mitchell pictured in mug shot (Becker County Sheriff's Office)

On Monday – one week on from the incident – Democratic Majority Leader Senator Erin Murphy said in a statement that Ms Mitchell has since been removed from her responsibilities, including her committee assignments and caucus meetings.

“While the case is under review both in the Senate and in the courts, Senator Mitchell will be relieved of her committee assignments and removed from caucus meetings,” the statement read.

“This is a tragic situation, and there are still questions that need to be answered,” Mr Murphy added.

Mr Murphy went on to say that the legal investigation into the incident is ongoing, while Ms Mitchell is also being investigated by the state Senate after Republicans lawmakers filed an ethics complaint against her.

“Senators must be held to the highest standard of ethical conduct. Public trust has been violated,” Republican state Senator Eric Lucero said on the senate floor last week.

Democratic State Senator Nicole Mitchell, right, of Woodbury, speaks with Senator Robert Farnsworth, the state Senate (AP)

Ms Mitchell is currently one of six Minnesota politicians who have been arrested and are still serving the state.

At the scene of her arrest, she allegedly told investigators that her father had recently died and her stepmother had cut contact with her and other family members, according to court documents.

“I was just trying to get a couple of my dad’s things because you wouldn’t talk to me anymore,” she told her stepmother as she was placed under arrest, the documents added.

Ms Mitchell’s backpack was then searched by police who found two laptops, a cellphone, her driver’s licence, senate identification and Tupperware, the document continues.

One of the laptops, which was used to prop open a window, allegedly belonged to her stepmother, authorities said. Ms Mitchell said her stepmother had given her the laptop “way back when,” but her stepmother denied ever giving the laptop to the state senator,

Ms Mitchell was released without bond on the condition she would not have contact with her stepmother, among other restrictions, her attorney, Bruce Ringstrom Jr, told CNN.

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