Cause of death released for stabbing suspect

Published 10:18 am Monday, December 16, 2013

By Peggy Senzarino

Mason City Globe Gazette

NORTHWOOD, Iowa — A Northwood man who died after being shot with tasers by Worth County Sheriff’s deputies in September had elevated levels of methamphetamine in his system and suffered from a heart condition, according to an autopsy report released Saturday.

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The autopsy was conducted on Michael Zubrod, 44, by the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny.

Zubrod died after an altercation with sheriff’s deputies on Sept. 22 at a home in the 200 block of Fourth Street North in Northwood. Worth County sheriff’s deputies Isaac Short, Shayne Hoch and John Smith stunned Zubrod several times in an effort to subdue him.

Worth County Attorney Jeffrey Greve concluded the deputies were justified in using such force to try and take Zubrod into custody, according to a press release from the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

On Sept. 22 at about 11:30 p.m., Deputy Short responded to a possible domestic assault in progress at 208 Fourth St. N. in Northwood. A neighbor heard a female screaming for help and called police. Short arrived at the residence where he said he heard a female yelling and screaming from inside.

The deputy entered the residence and discovered Zubrod allegedly severely beating a female victim, later identified as Rhonda Schukei, 48, with a hammer and a pair of scissors and verbally threatening to kill her.

Deputies Hoch and Smith soon arrived and, along with Short, attempted to subdue Zubrod using tasers, which had little to no effect on Zubrod as he continued to try to attack Schukei, according to a police report.

During the altercation, Zubrod continually threatened to kill both Schukei as well as the deputies. At one point, 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 apply 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 and were tending to Schukei were unable to revive Zubrod.

It took months to release the results of the autopsy because authorities were waiting for additional toxicology and cardiac test results.

The report said the cause of death was “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 these factors, coupled with the physical stress of his assault of Schukei and subsequent altercation with law enforcement, contributed to Zubrod’s death, the statement read.

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