West St. Paul woman charged with murder for allegedly strangling aunt


Divina Marie Sulentich

A 40-year-old West St. Paul woman was charged with murder for allegedly strangling her aunt to death following an argument.

Divina Marie Sulentich was charged Aug. 9 with second-degree intentional murder for allegedly killing her aunt, 60-year-old Mary Susan Sulentich, also of West St. Paul. 

The killing occurred July 8 or 9. The maximum sentence for second-degree murder is 40 years.

According to court documents, on July 12 a witness entered Mary Sulentich’s apartment to conduct a welfare check and upon entering, found her body. When officers arrived they found the body on a bed, but the cause of death was not readily apparent. 

The witness told police Sulentich had been living with her aunt since April, court documents say.

The investigation found that West St. Paul police officers had previously been dispatched to the apartment on July 8 around 10:30 a.m., after Mary Sulentich reported she was having an argument with her niece. 

According to court documents, police tracked down Sulentich and interviewed her. She allegedly said that after police left the apartment on July 8, she left and went to the community room in the building but later returned.

She told police that upon returning, she saw her aunt holding a cellphone, threatening to tell others about her illegal purchase of Vicodin, and who she was buying it from, court documents say.

Sulentich allegedly told police she took her aunt’s cellphone and broke it, before grabbing and shaking her aunt.

According to court documents, Sulentich told police the two struggled and ended up on the bed, with Sulentich on top. She allegedly told police she squeezed her aunt’s neck until she went limp.

Sulentich told police she stayed in the apartment all day on July 9, contemplating what to do, before allegedly leaving in her aunt’s car on July 10, without reporting the death. 

The medical examiner determined the cause of death was consistent with manual strangulation. 

Sulentich is currently in custody in Sherburne County serving 120 days on an Anoka County terroristic threats case.

Once her sentence is complete Sept. 6, she’ll be transferred to Dakota County custody.

 

—Hannah Burlingame


Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here