Minnesota State Sen. Nicole Lynn Mitchell

By Robert Williams


Minnesota Democratic senator Nicole Lynn Mitchell was arrested for first-degree burglary of her stepmother’s home in Becker County on Monday, April 22. Mitchell, 49, made her first court appearance the following day appearing before District Judge Gretchen Thilmony via Zoom from the Becker County jail.

According to court records, on Monday, April 22 at approximately 4:45 a.m., Detroit Lakes police officers were dispatched to a residence on a report that somebody had broken into a residence. The reporting party, a known adult female, stated that the suspect ran into the basement. Officer Ethan Wothe arrived on scene at the victim’s residence. Once inside, Officer Wothe overheard movement coming from the basement.

Officer Wothe and Officer Sternhagen searched the basement and shortly thereafter located a female dressed in all black clothing and a black hat. The female, later identified as Mitchell, was ordered to the ground and placed under arrest. While being detained Mitchell stated to the the victim, her stepmother, 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.” 

Officer Sternhagen discovered a flashlight near Mitchell that had a black sock covering. The flashlight appeared to have been modified so as to control the amount of light emitting from the flashlight.

Officer Wothe searched for Mitchell’s point of entry into the house. He observed a window on the south wall of the basement and a black backpack stuck in a small sliding window. Officers searched the backpack and discovered two laptops, a cell phone, Mitchell’s Minnesota driver’s license, her Senate identification, and miscellaneous Tupperware. 

Officer Wothe later spoke to Mitchell about the laptops and she said they were both hers. Mitchell stated she had “just gotten into the house” and commented “clearly I’m not good at this.”

At his squad car, Officer Sternhagen read Mitchell her Miranda rights. After hearing it, Mitchell stated “I know I did something bad.” 

Mitchell explained that her father had recently passed away and that her stepmother had ceased all contact with her and other family members. Mitchell stated she wanted various items of her late father’s and her stepmother refused to give them to her. 

Mitchell described these items as pictures, a flannel shirt, ashes, and other items of sentimental value. 

Mitchell admitted to driving her vehicle from the Twin Cities and noted that she left Woodbury around 1 a.m. She also admitted she got into the house through the window where the bag was discovered. 

At the jail, Officer Sternhagen asked what got Mitchell “to this stage” and she indicated that it was her father’s ashes. She stated that she previously got into an argument with her stepmother and they stopped speaking.

Officer Wothe arrived at the jail and questioned Mitchell about the laptops. Officer Wothe presented Mitchell with the first laptop that was dark in color. She opened the laptop and pressed a button and her stepmother’s name popped up. The laptop was not password protected. Mitchell stated her stepmother gave her the laptop “way back when.”

Officer Wothe again spoke to the victim, who stated that she did not give a laptop to Mitchell.

Detroit Lakes Police Chief Steve Todd confirmed that Mitchell remained behind bars on Monday and the department forwarded its reports to the Becker County Attorney, who will decide on charges.

Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander told The New York Post that he expected a criminal complaint against the lawmaker to be filed Tuesday.

Judge Thilmony set bail or bond with no conditions at $40,000, however, Mitchell was released without bail on her own recognizance with conditions.

Mitchell was ordered to have no contact with her stepmother and obey a restraining order that was filed by her stepmother and approved by Thilmony. Mitchell is allowed to leave the state while performing official duties with the Minnesota Senate, and can also travel to Cass County, North Dakota, without permission.

Upon release, Mitchell issued a public statement, “Regarding the recent news: Like so many families, mine is dealing with the pain of watching a loved one decline due to Alzheimer’s and associated paranoia.

“Over the weekend, I learned of medical information which caused me grave concern and prompted me to check on that family member. I entered a home I have come and gone from countless times in the past 20 years, where my son even once had his own room.

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

“Thank you to all my friends (and colleagues of both parties) for the kind words of support and for trusting my character even before I had a chance to respond. This has been a true tragedy for our family and my hope is it can return to being a private matter.”

Mitchell has a key to the home and lived there with both her father and stepmother, according to her attorney Bruce Ringstrom. She grew up in the Detroit Lakes home. Ringstrom also described a medical condition the stepmother has, which has created difficulties in communication between the victim and his client.

“I agree that all of those circumstances would suggest that it was her plan to go in and out without disturbing anyone,” said Ringstrom. “I believe she was trying to protect herself from being noticed. I am not going to deny that. She wanted to basically make a check and retrieve a couple of items that she felt were being wrongfully withheld from her despite earlier promises.”

Republican leader, Mark Johnson, released a separate statement: “The public expects Legislators to meet a high standard of conduct. As information comes out, we expect the consequences to meet the actions, both in the court of law, and in her role at the legislature.”

Mitchell was elected in 2022 and is serving her first term as a DFL state senator. She is also the Vice Chair of the State and Local Government and Veterans Committee.

Prior to her political career, Mitchell was a television meteorologist. She also serves as a lieutenant commander in the Air National Guard.

Mitchell is scheduled to appear back in Becker County District Court at an omnibus hearing scheduled on Monday, June 10.