A family is left reeling after the death of an elderly woman, who died days after allegedly being beaten with a can of pasta sauce by her own daughter, according to a criminal complaint from the Maple Grove Police Department (MGPD).
Police responded to a call regarding a domestic violence incident at 3:10 p.m. on June 27, 2023, on the 11900 block of 71st avenue in Maple Grove, Minnesota, according to the criminal complaint. Upon arriving at the scene, officers spoke with the victim, 78-year-old Sheila May Wobbeking.
Sheila told police that she had gone to the home to discuss unpaid rent and problems with the neighbors with her daughter and tenant, 49-year-old Nicole Mari Wobbeking, the criminal complaint, obtained by Law & Crime, says. When Sheila’s knock went unanswered, she entered the home, something she claimed she has done before.
Upon calling out to her daughter, she said she got no answer, so she approached Nicole’s bedroom door, the complaint says. Nicole allegedly came out of her room, started screaming obscenities at her mother, then slapped Sheila with an open hand on the right side of the face, letting Sheila’s glasses strike her nose.
Sheila claimed that Nicole didn’t stop there, the complaint says. Nicole allegedly shoved her mother “down several stairs” and Sheila wound up on the floor. Continuing the assault, Nicole “began to strike her in the ribs and hips with a can of unopened pasta sauce.” Sheila said she escaped the assault, fled from the home, and waited outside with her granddaughter until police arrived.
Nicole was arrested later, according to the complaint. Police returned to the home to speak with her. Nicole told them that her mother was indeed her landlord and was in the habit of entering the residence without permission. She added that she pushed her mother and she fell “a little bit down the stairs.”
Paramedics took Sheila to the hospital when she complained about pain in her ribs and left shin and ankle, which was determined to be broken, the complaint says. Sheila returned to her home in Plymouth.
However, according to a statement from the MGPD, Plymouth police responded to a call to Sheila’s home on July 5. Sheila died despite life-saving efforts of first responders. Plymouth Police notified Maple Grove detectives of the death due to the previous altercation with Nicole.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner confirmed in the post-mortem examination that Sheila’s manner of death was homicide related to the June 27 incident, the statement says. The ME determined the cause of death to be a pulmonary thromboemobili due to the broken ankle.
Nicole was taken into custody when police visited her home. She remains incarcerated, her original charge of a domestic violence misdemeanor upgraded to third degree assault causing bodily harm, Law & Crime confirms. The MGPD have requested the charges be upgraded once more to homicide.
Maple Grove Police Commander Jon Wetternach confirmed to Law & Crime that the decision is still pending.
The complaint notes Nicole has a previous criminal record from 2016, when she was convicted of assault to inflict or attempt bodily harm.
A mother and grandmother, remembered fondly
Sheila’s obituary reveals a woman who will be remembered “for her dry wit, unconditional love, and unwavering support to her family and friends.” She loved travelling, reading, cooking, and her beloved dog, Sasha.
“She was so giving to others, even to those she didn't know as she was an active volunteer for her community and church, in which Sharing and Caring Hands and Meals on Wheels being her particular favorites,” the obituary states.
Her granddaughter, Olivia, shared a story about how a cardinal was by her front window.
“She would always say it was Zack (her grandson who passed away in 2008) saying hello. Once she passed on, the cardinal began singing for the first time since it has visited us,” Olivia said.
Sheila’s granddaughter, Briana, also said she had an eerily similar experience with a cardinal singing outside of her window on the night Sheila died, the obituary continues.
“Clearly, she is still with us spiritually,” the obituary says. “And although we miss her and we know she misses us, it is comforting to know that she is so happy to be rejoining those loved ones she has missed so much."
Her family remembers a “noble soul devoted to the service of something greater, to her family, her friends, and her faith,” the obituary continues. Fearless, compassionate, generous, sophisticated, and cultured are all words used to describe Sheila. Among the things her family will miss is “her comfort-inducing command to give her a hug before she left.”
“While there's sorrow, there's also gratitude and solace,” the obituary says. “Gratitude for having been able to trod the same ground as her for 36 years. Gratitude for having been able to receive firsthand instruction on how to live a life of adventure and purpose, a life marked by love and service.”