Skip to main content

Murder indictments in deer-feeding feud, 2-year old shooting death

  • Author:
  • Updated:

First-degree murder indictments were announced Wednesday in two different criminal investigations in Ramsey County.

Charges in deer-feeding murder upgraded

A Ramsey County grand jury has indicted a New Brighton man on first-degree murder charges in the shooting death of his neighbor in May over a deer-feeding feud, the Ramsey County Attorney's office announced Wednesday.

Neil Zumberge, 57, was also indicted on first-degree attempted murder for wounding the neighbor's girlfriend.

Zumberge is accused of shooting the two neighbors, who live across the street from him, with a semiautomatic weapon. One of the two, Todd Stevens, 46, died. Jennifer Damerow-Cleven, 48, suffered serious injuries.

The assault reportedly grew out of a feud that had been simmering for years between the two families over Stevens' practice of feeding deer in his yard.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi had previously charged Zumberge with second-degree murder and attempted murder, but a grand jury indictment is required for the elevated first-degree murder charges. The previous charges still stand as well.

The complaint against Zumberge says he and his wife Paula were upset by the deer feeders on Stevens’ property and blamed the animals for a case of Lyme disease Neal Zumberge said he’d contracted. The disease is spread through deer ticks.

Last year Damerow-Cleven had obtained a restraining order against Neal Zumberge, who she said was harassing her.

Damerow-Cleven had called police before the shooting to report that the Zumberges' adult son, Jacob, had threatened to kill her and Stevens, authorities say.

Paula Zumberge was acquitted in August of several charges in connection with the case, including aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Prosecutors claimed that she had helped her husband plan the attack and encouraged him to keep shooting.

Neil Zumberge is due to appear in court Thursday afternoon on the new charges. He is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 2, 2015.

3 indicted in two-year old St. Paul killing

A Ramsey County grand jury indicted three men on first-degree murder charges in the shooting death of a St. Paul man more than two years ago, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

The victim, Leonard Christian, Sr., 56, was killed in his house on Central Avenue in the Summit-University area on March 30, 2012. Police said his home was riddled with bullets.

Christian's son, Leonard Christian Jr., was apparently the intended target of the shooting, Assistant Chief Bill Martinez said at a news conference Wednesday.

The three suspects were identified at the news conference as Ramone D. Smaller, Juan E. Martinez and Desean Thomas, according to the Pioneer Press. Smaller and Martinez are in prison for unrelated crimes. Thomas is in jail.

Police say the shooting may have been gang related; they said it took this long to bring the case to the grand jury because some witnesses were afraid to come forward.

One of the men, 22-year-old Smaller, is in prison for attempted murder in a July 2013 drive-by shooting.

Smaller, described by police as a gang member, was also charged in June in three shootings of St. Paul residences last October, the Pioneer Press reports.

Next Up


80 mph winds, large hail possible with severe storms in MN

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for much of the state until 3 a.m. Saturday.


30 people evacuated as flooding hammers small town

It's assumed that at least eight inches of rain fell in Randall, with more heavy rain expected Friday night into Saturday morning.

Intersection in Rochester.

Boy dies in motorcycle crash in Rochester

Police are investigating as of Friday afternoon.

Tab2FileL (13)

Numerous severe storms likely in Minnesota Friday night

Watch the video for the full details with meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.

court room

Teen pleads guilty in shooting death of 15-year-old girl in Columbia Heights

Damico Jamal-Tokyo High will receive a sentence in juvenile court, along with an adult prison sentence.

Screen Shot 2022-04-25 at 11.00.01 AM

Walz wants to use surplus money to send direct payments to Minnesotans

It's a renewed effort from a previous proposal from Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan's supplemental budget in January.

Ron Johnson

Jan. 6 committee says aide for WI senator tried to give fake elector info to Pence

The attempt was discovered through text messages in the ongoing public hearing held by the Jan. 6 select committee.

Stock U of M sign

Minnesota state colleges boosting tuition again by 3.5%

The Minnesota State system's Board of Trustee's approved the increase Wednesday.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, June 24

The next daily update will be provided Monday, June 27.

Pro choice rally

Walz, Jensen react to historic Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade

After voting to overturn Roe, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas has hinted contraception and same-sex marriage protections should follow.

16362 County Rd 81, Maple Grove, Minnesota - October 2021 (4)

2-year-old killed in crash on County Road 81 in Maple Grove

The crash occurred Thursday evening on County Road 81.

police tape

BCA issues new details about St. Michael standoff, shooting

New details say a St. Cloud police officer struck the suspect with gunfire.