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State medical examiner describes death of Michael Zubrod

NORTHWOOD – On September 22, 2013, at about 11:30 p.m., Deputy Isaac Short with the Worth County Sheriff’s Department was notified of a possible domestic assault in progress at 208 4th Street North in Northwood, Iowa, by a neighbor who heard a female screaming for help. Deputy Short responded to the residence where he heard a female yelling and screaming from inside. Deputy Short entered the residence and discovered a male subject, later identified as Michael Zubrod, age 44, severely beating a female victim, later identified as Rhonda Schukei, age 48, with a hammer and a pair of scissors and verbally threatening to kill her.

Worth County Deputies Shayne Hoch and John Smith arrived on scene shortly thereafter and, along with Deputy Short, attempted to subdue Zubrod utilizing Tasers, which had little to no effect on Zubrod as he continued to try to attack Schukei. During the altercation Zubrod continually threatened to kill both Schukei as well as the responding deputies. At one point during the altercation, Zubrod repeatedly struck Deputy Short in the leg with a pair of needle nose pliers. All three deputies wrestled Zubrod to the floor and were able to handcuff him in front of his body while Zubrod was kicking at officers. Officers were eventually able to handcuff Zubrod behind his back and applied leg shackles. While Zubrod was handcuffed and lying on the floor, he continued speaking to officers, but became unresponsive moments later. Paramedics who had arrived on scene at this time and were tending to Schukei were unable to revive Zubrod.

Schukei was transported to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where she underwent numerous surgeries as a result of stab wounds and blunt force injuries. Schukei has since been released from the Mayo Clinic and is recovering from her injuries.

An autopsy was conducted on Michael Zubrod by the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny, Iowa, but the results of that autopsy could not be released until the completion of additional toxicology and cardiac testing. Authorities have since received the results of the autopsy noting the cause of death as “cardiac arrhythmia following an altercation with law enforcement in the setting of acute methamphetamine intoxication”. Zubrod was found to have elevated levels of methamphetamine in his system as well as coronary artery dysplasia at the time of the incident. It is believed the aforementioned factors, coupled with the physical stress of his assault of Schukei and subsequent altercation with law enforcement, contributed to Zubrod’s death.

Worth County Attorney Jeffrey Greve has concluded the actions of Deputies Short, Hoch and Smith were justified.  

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