A woman strangled her 60-year-old aunt in the victim’s West St. Paul home, fled in the dead woman’s car and later admitted to the killing, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.
Divina M. Sulentich, 40, was charged in Dakota County District Court with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Mary S. Sulentich on either July 8 or 9.
Sulentich is currently in the Sherburne County jail serving a four-month sentence on an unrelated terroristic threats conviction out of Anoka County for attacking her former mother-in-law. Court records do not list an attorney for Sulentich in either case.
According to the murder complaint:
Police were called to Mary Sulentich’s apartment in the 1500 block of Bellows Street on July 12 and found her body face-up on a bed. An autopsy the next day determined she had been strangled.
Divina Sulentich had been living at the home since April to help her aunt recover from knee surgery.
Police had been to the apartment on the night of July 8 because Mary Sulentich reported getting in a dispute with her niece.
On the day of the body’s discovery, Divina Sulentich told police that the argument was over illegal narcotic painkiller purchases she was making on her aunt’s behalf and Mary Sulentich threatened to expose the drug buys.
Divina Sulentich said she grabbed her aunt by the neck and shoulders, then shook her. Mary Sulentich bit her niece on the upper right arm and chest.
The two fell to the bed while struggling, and Divina Sulentich straddled her aunt and squeezed her neck. Mary Sulentich went limp.
Realizing she killed her aunt, Divina Sulentich remained in the apartment throughout July 9 to contemplate her next move and left the next day in Mary Sulentich’s vehicle without reporting the death.