Minnesota Lawmaker Charged with Burglary Claims She Was Caring for Relative with Alzheimer’s

The Daily Beast/Minnesota Senate
The Daily Beast/Minnesota Senate

A Minnesota state senator charged with burglarizing her stepmom’s home, is denying that she wanted to steal anything, instead claiming that police were called after she startled a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Police officers in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota discovered Democrat Nicole Mitchell, clad in all black and armed with a DIY dampened flashlight, in her stepmom’s basement, after receiving a call at 4:45 a.m on Monday morning, claiming that someone had broken into the residence.

Mitchell was allegedly trying to retrieve some of her recently deceased father’s personal effects after her stepmom stopped all communication with her and other family members, according to the statement of probable cause. As she was being detained, officers said Mitchell said something to the effect of, “I was just trying to get a couple of my dad’s things because you wouldn’t talk to me anymore.”

Mitchell described the items she was seeking as “pictures, a flannel shirt, ashes, and other items of sentimental value,” according to the statement. Officers read Mitchell her Miranda rights, to which she replied, “I know I did something bad.”

“I had just gotten into the house,” Mitchell later told Officer Ethan Wothe. “Clearly, I’m not good at this.”

At the scene, police discovered a backpack with Mitchell’s laptops, cellphone, driver’s license and Senate ID. While the state senator claimed that they were her laptops, when the officers had her open one, a profile with the stepmom’s name popped up. She told police that it had been given to her “way back when,” but her stepmom denied giving the laptop to Mitchell.

Mitchell is being charged with one count of burglary, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years, a fine of $35,000, or both.

She also told officers it was her desire to retrieve her father’s ashes that had pushed her to go to her stepmom’s house, according to the statement.

On Tuesday, however, Mitchell changed her tune, and denied that she was trying to steal from her stepmom. In a statement on her Facebook page, Mitchell claimed she had entered the house to check on a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s.

“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. “Over the weekend, I learned of medical information which caused me grave concern and prompted me to check on that family member.”

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

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