Neal Zumberge: Where is the Killer Now?

In mid-2014, Todd Stevens was murdered at the hands of his neighbor Neal Zumberge, with whom he shared an intense feud over a deer-feeding issue. When the usually quiet, suburban neighborhood of New Brighton, Minnesota, echoed with the sounds of gunfire, the police received numerous calls from the residents. The episode of ‘Vengeance: Killer Neighbors,’ titled ‘Deerly Departed,’ details the intricacies of the case and also comprises interviews with the people associated with the victim as well as the culprit, giving the viewers more insight into the shocking murder case.

Who is Neal Zumberge?

Neal Curtis Zumberge was born on January 20, 1957, and had been living with his wife, Paula Zumberge, and kids in the city of New Brighton in Ramsey County, Minnesota, for years. However, the Zumberges weren’t always residents of the suburbs of the Twin Cities. It was in the year 1998 that the family made the city their home. They lived in a property that was situated just across the road from Todd Stevens and his girlfriend, Jennifer Damerow-Cleven, in the 2500 block of Knollwood Drive. On the contrary, Todd had been a New Brighton resident for a major portion of his life.

In the initial years of the Zumberge family’s move to the block, Neal said that he and Todd had developed a rather good bond, as they sometimes sat around the bonfire and talked about life and held competitions revolving around fireworks or dandelion-picking. However, as the years progressed, cracks began to develop in their seemingly friendly relationship. Among other things, the fact that Todd Stevens and Jennifer Damerow-Cleven fed the deer in the yard of the Zumberges became the major cause of the dispute.

Jennifer Damerow-Cleven and Todd Stevens//Image Credit: Snapped

In the early 2010s, things had gotten so much worse that police had to be involved on both ends. The Zumberges alleged the deer-feeding is what seemingly led to him and his dog contracting Lyme disease. As reported by Mercury News, Damerow-Cleven obtained a restraining order for harassment against Zumberge from the Ramsey County District Court in April 2013 after reportedly finding “deer parts, dead squirrels and two deer carcasses on her and Stevens’ property.” The Zumberges were furious at Todd for the same.

In the last week of the same month, Neal’s son, Jacob Howard Zumberge, was at a VFW club in Spring Lake Park in the city when he stumbled upon Jennifer and Todd and reportedly threatened to “kill them and burn down their house.” As a result, the couple reported Jacob to the police, and an arrest warrant was issued against him. The long-standing feud between Neal and Todd went to the extremes on the evening of May 5, 2014, when Jennifer saw the son of the Zumberges at a restaurant and had him arrested.

Fueled with rage about Jacob’s arrest, Paula walked down to Todd’s residence and began a verbal altercation with Jennifer. Soon, Todd came out of the house and stood in support of the love of his life. When Neal heard his neighbors arguing with his wife, he grabbed his loaded shotgun and pulled the trigger four times at Todd, killing him on the spot, while also shooting at his girlfriend and severely injuring her. As per the shooter’s claims, he thought that Todd was reaching for a weapon of his own, but in reality, it was just his phone. Soon after the incident, Neal was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree attempted murder of Todd Stevens and Jennifer Damerow-Cleven, respectively.

Neal Zumberge is Serving Jail Time Today

Neal Zumberge’s trial for the murder case of Todd Stevens commenced in August 2015, where a lot of what transpired unfolded before the jury. During the trial, the defendant was highly critical of his attorneys as he felt that they provided ineffective counsel due to their ongoing battle with cancer. On the other hand, Todd Stevens’ girlfriend, Jennifer Damerow-Cleven, who was also injured during the May 2014 shooting, had a few words to say in the court of law. “All I can say to him is, ‘I don’t forgive you. I never forgive you, and I hope you rot in hell. That’s it, and I mean it,” she said.

When Paula Zumberge testified in favor of her husband and blamed Todd for allegedly threatening her, the prosecutor argued that he did not do any such thing and Paula was the one who initiated the argument with Jennifer. After a four-day trial, in August 2015, the jury deliberated only for a couple of hours and returned with a guilty verdict, convicting Neal Zumberge of first-degree premeditated murder, second-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, and second-degree attempted murder.

About a month later, during his sentencing, Neal read out a statement in front of the court. “I want Todd’s family to know how deeply sorry I am for the pain I’ve caused them. If I could trade places with Todd, I would. I’m sorry. Todd didn’t deserve to die. I wish one of us would’ve thrown up the white flag and talked. We were just two pig-headed guys who refused to give in. I hope people can learn from this. It’s not any less of a man to give up. It’s not a bad thing to admit you’re wrong,” he stated.

In September 2015, Neal received a life imprisonment sentence. He was further obliged to pay $8,400 in restitution. After his sentencing, the convict didn’t hesitate to appeal his life-term sentence twice in the following four years, in 2017 and 2019, only to have them denied by the court. Currently, 66-year-old Neal Curtis Zumberge is serving his time in the maximum-security Minnesota Correctional Facility – Oak Park Heights at 5329 North Osgood Avenue in Oak Park Heights.

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