Murder of Todd Stevens by neighbor Neal Zumberge examined on Snapped

Mugshot of Neal Zumberge
Neal Zumberge is serving a life sentence for killing Todd Stevens. Pic credit: MN Dept. of Corrections

Snapped is investigating the murder of Todd Stevens, who was gunned down in front of his house by neighbor Neal Zumberge in New Brighton, Minnesota.

Zumberge had been involved in an escalating feud with his neighbors, Todd Stevens and Jennifer Cleven, who lived across the road from them in a northern suburb of Minneapolis.

Stevens and Cleven liked to feed deer in their yard, which angered Zumberge because he didn’t want deer coming into the neighborhood. The dispute bubbled along for two years but escalated after Stevens and Cleven found animal remains in their yard.

The couple suspected Zumberge of killing the animals, and Cleven later claimed Zumberge had threatened to kill them when they confronted him about the remains.

In April 2014, Cleven called the police to say Zumberge’s son, Jacob, had threatened to kill her. This led to Jacob being arrested a week later.

On May 5, 2014, Zumberge’s wife, Paula, confronted Cleven about her son’s arrest as the latter came home from work. The pair got into a shouting match in front of their houses.

Neal Zumberge prepared to shoot Todd Stevens and Jennifer Cleven

At some point, Stevens came outside and stood beside Cleven. Zumberge, who had initially stayed in the house, then grabbed his 12-gauge shotgun and went to the basement. He climbed out a window and peered around a corner of the house at Cleven and Stevens.

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Zumberge fired four shots at the couple from a distance of about 145 feet. Three of the shots hit Stevens, and the fourth hit Cleven as she tried to run back into the house.

Stevens died a short time later, but Cleven survived the shooting.

The shooter claimed he’d been defending his wife. He said he had been lip-reading Stevens and saw him say, “I’m gonna kill that f***ing b****.” He also claimed that Stevens appeared to reach for a firearm on his belt and that the gun just “went off.” He also said that he never intended to hit Cleven and had only wanted to stop Stevens.

The cops discovered Stevens was unarmed, though he did have a cellphone attached to his belt.

Neal Zumberge convicted of killing Todd Stevens

In April 2015, a Ramsey County jury disagreed with Zumberge’s version of events and convicted him of premeditated first-degree murder. He was also convicted of second-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, and second-degree attempted murder.

Zumberge was given a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. At his sentencing hearing, the killer finally came clean.

He confessed that he had lied about the gun just going off and that he hadn’t thought Stevens was reaching for a firearm and admitted that he hadn’t seen the couple as a threat that day.

Zumberge appeared to show some genuine remorse and apologized to the victim’s family. He said he was “deeply sorry that I hurt them.”

The killer added, “In the end, I hope to find myself worthy of some sort of absolution. God will be my judge..”

Snapped airs Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.

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