Last Updated: 4:10 p.m.
Nathan Shimmel said it happened by accident. At least at first.
His mother Michele Shimmel was threatening to throw him out of the house, according to what he told authorities Wednesday evening. She was upset that he wasn’t looking for a job. He says he panicked. He grabbed a knife off the kitchen counter. And he stabbed his mother in the throat.
“She was yelling at me and she grabbed me and I just, I panicked,” he said. “She just grabbed my arm and just like just tried to talk to me, I panicked… it just happened.”
Sheriff Rick Staly shed more details on that moment, when he briefed the press on the incident at 3 p.m. today: immediately before he stabbed her, his mother, upset that he wasn’t looking at her as they argued, had told him what billions of mothers have told billions of sons and daughters through the ages: “Look at me when I’m talking to you.” Those may have been her last words, other than words of pleading that followed after the stabbing began.
“This was a very brutal, a very violent, and an apparently angry” incident,” Staly said. “The mother was trying to flee out the front door. The brutal attack continued out of the house and into the front yard, at which time from our investigation he watched his mother die in the front yard and stabbed her one last time in the back in an attempt to make it look like” she had been attacked by a masked assailant.
Shimmel, who’d been living with his mother, was arrested overnight on a first-degree murder charge. The stabbing took place at 47 Woodhollow Lane in Palm Coast, just before 7:30 Wednesday evening. He’s being held at the Flagler County jail on no bond since early this morning.
At 7:28 p.m. Wednesday, Nathan Shimmel, 22, himself called 911 and pretended that a masked assailant had attacked his mother, stabbing her in the back and fleeing the scene. He claimed to have been on his back porch when he’d heard screams.
The 911 Call (Silences and Sheriff’s Redactions Edited Out)
In the 911 call he placed, he sounded calm, almost studied for much of the 20-minute duration. “I think he hurt my mom,” he told the 911 dispatcher. “Just now I heard screaming, when I came out she was on the ground, I didn’t thinks she’s OK.” He claimed he “got away” without helping his mother, to go to a friend’s house, driving his own car. “There was a knife,” he told the 911 dispatcher, and specified that it was still in her. There’s a level of emotion in his voice, more obvious as the call stretches into the second minute, then the third, when the dispatcher tells him to stay on the line as help was on the way. The dispatcher asks him basic questions asked in such circumstances, such as whether he knew of people who might harm his mother. He cited his father.
Approaching the fifth minute, the dispatcher tells him authorities had reached the house.
“Is she OK?” he asked.
“I’m not sure yet, I’m sorry,” the dispatcher says. She then asks him what his dad drives, and Shimmel again provides a few physical details about him. He asked again if she was OK.
Near the 10th minute, he says, “we have dogs, they might have, like, bitten him or something.” He describes the two Australian shepherds as not aggressive, but “they might have tried to protect her.”
“Do you remember anything else that you saw since we’ve been talking?”
“No,” he tells the dispatcher. The questions then again turn to his father.
There is a lot of background chatter at the 911 center as Shimmel awaits the arrival of authorities at his location, and toward the end of the call, the dispatcher tells him, “you did great.”
“Thank you,” he tells her, back to the monotone he’s used for most of the call.
“They’re here,” were his last words before the 911 call ended.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s initial response was in search mode, but only briefly. Shimmel told the 911 dispatcher that after walking through the house he saw his mother face down in the front yard, the assailant next to her, so he fled to a friend’s house at 23 Wellshire Lane, ostensibly to avoid the masked man.
His story changed quickly after that, when authorities saw him in blood-soaked clothes. “I observed blood in between Nathaniel’s toes,” reported Flagler Sheriff’s detective George Hristakopoulos when he arrived at the Wellshire Lane house about 45 minutes after the stabbing. “Blood on his chest, on his shorts, and a substantial amount of blood on his shirt. I noticed a small cut on Nathaniel’s left cheek, and on the bridge of his nose.” (His glasses had been knocked off during the confrontation).
When asked how the knife had ended up in his mother’s back, Shimmel said he put it there to make it look as if an assailant had done it, according to his arrest report.
“I just kept stabbing,” he said, “she tried to get away so I grabbed her … I knew I was going to go to jail.” Shimmel, according to the report, told a deputy that “all of the stabbing took place inside the house, and he watched Michele Shimmel as she ‘bled out’ and he ‘watched her die.'” He said he “hit her in the jugular,” and used an expletive to describe the moment. When asked how many times he thought he’d stabbed her, he said, “a lot.”
But it was also apparent that his mother had tried to defend herself and had pleaded with her son. “Oh my God the screams, she just kept yelling ‘No’ she looked so scared,” Nathan Shimmel said. He then left the knife in her back and fled to his friend’s house.
Staly described the weapon as “a large knife.” (There’d been five documented calls for service by law enforcement to the address in in the past, three of them civil related, two false residential alarms. “We have not responded there for any disturbances or any domestic violence cases,” Staly said.)
Shimmel was alternately interviewed by two detectives, and cried at various points, also saying that “there is no God who would forgive what he has done,” according to the report. That report concludes that Shimmel’s description of the incident was consistent with what authorities found at the scene. And Shimmel himself conceded that the story he’d told the 911 dispatcher was false.
Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies, detectives and others worked the scene through the night, with Sheriff Rick Staly at the scene late into the night. Authorities were still there mid-morning today, with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Crime Scene unit leaving only around 9:45 a.m.
“It’s a tragedy that this occurred but I’m glad that we could quickly identify the suspect and take him into custody,” Staly was quoted as saying in a release issued this morning. “Units within the agency worked as the dynamic team they are. Many have worked with no sleep for 24-hours or minimal sleep, away from their families. I joined them firsthand at various scenes and operations last night and this morning and I couldn’t be prouder to lead such a professional group.” Staly is holding a press conference at 3 p.m. on the case, the third homicide on his watch since January–the most since three murders were recorded in the county in 2013.
In the news conference this afternoon, Staly said there were no indications that Nathan Shimmel was either intoxicated or on any kind of prescription medication, nor were there indications of mental illness in his past.
“This again underscores the need for a domestic violence solution in our county,” Staly said, referring to the domestic violence task force he established, and which should have a report by October.
All three killings this year appear to be the result of domestic confrontations.
The most murders recorded in Flagler County in recent memory in a single year are four. That has happened in 2000, 2006 and 2007.
South Florida says
What a tragedy. R.I.p.
Ken Dodge says
Looks like Nathan broke the 5th and the 6th of the Ten Commandments.
Donnie Riddle says
Ain’t know words to describe this scumbag!
The stuff of horror movies….the level of anger we are seeing right now is terrifying. People just lashing out in hate. How does a situation get this out of control and escalate so quickly? Nathan, there is a God who will forgive what you did, but you have to be sorry first. I’m not sure I would or could. This is heartbreaking.
Komodo Dragon says
Sheriffs Rick Staly is the best hands down. He gets involved and with that he immerses himself understanding what and how crime occurs. He demonstrates his love for what he does. Gotta luv him.
[email protected] says
Such a terrible tragedy.
Palm coast the cream of the crop. What is in the water in palm cost
Concerned Citizen says
I hope whoever your judge is gives you the maximum penalty. Tired of seeing cold blooded murderers plea down because of “mental and emotional issues”
You killed your mother because you were probably acting like an ass hat and she wanted you out of the house. Now you get to live with what you did.
My sympathy is only for the victim who probably died in agony while this man stood there and watched. Then set it up to avoid getting caught.
The report is for the police to investigate, not for irrelevant Flagler citizens to read, not to mention the pain this post article causes the victims family. My heart goes out to Michele’s friends and family through this horrible tragedy. I hope that justice will be served, and peace among those affected is found.
Killing someone/something is an unforgivable act. Killing your own mother is just unfathomable. I just cannot even imagine how this poor woman must have felt to see/feel her own son doing this to her. May she rest in piece.
This is horrible! I hope other surviving members of this family tragedy get the help and support they will need. Is there a victim’s assistance program in this county?
Born and Raised Here says
just because his Mama told him to get a job !!!
I’ve known this family casually for a number of years. I am shocked. Please pray for the rest of the family. They will need every ounce of help they can get.
What kind of drugs was he on?
normal person says
I swear, people are crazy today. He STABBED his own mother just because of an argument? This world makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t imagine how life will be in 10 years.
Yours truly says
Just came here to read the comments!
Pogo, I doubt the temporary insanity defense would apply because he had a sense of right and wrong as he told the deputies God won’t forgive this and because he fabricated such tale about a stranger being the assailant. If an accused has the ability to consider his actions at the time of the crime and can admit it is wrong and try to cover his guilt with lies, then he is not insane.
another vet says
imagine that, being told to get a job at 22
jerry blair says
this is the reason for a death penalty case …not mark asay
Meet your new wave MILLENNIALS!! Parents don’t want to listen to our opinions about the new breed they’ve raise without proper punishments and rearing of their children. That is what you get in return for your lack of efforts to raise your child properly………… And yes, that is sad, but true.
Time will tell. I certainly think there is no evidence of premeditation. This person (Shimmel) committed a heinous crime, but he didn’t plan it.
His actions in the aftermath are only pathetic. We may only imagine the reaction of the people he fled to: He shows up splattered with blood and tells them what? All I see is a troubled immature man. He panicked when his mother evicted him; and he panicked after his fit of rage. He was overwhelmed by fear. His coping abilities/skills are childish.
Sheriff Staly is right on point about the matter being domestic violence.
Many have made the usual comments of condemnation. Those remarks accomplish nothing. So, another sad chapter is reviewed, and then what? Do WE do anything to improve mental health services? Do WE do anything to assist people of all ages who are failing at life? How many others like him will return to a school and/or job site where they were evicted – with an assault rifle and large capacity magazines?
Now he doesn’t have to worry about a job or a place to stay. He can work the Chow Hall at Tomoka CI for the rest of his life. He gets a hard bunk, one blanket and state issued generic Crocs and a pair of cheap shower slides too.
I went to school with this guy. Very strange and used to hiss at people as we passed him. Why anyone didn’t notice this kid had a problem is a big question.
Komodo Dragon says
Steven, he’s a grown man and reached that milestone with the rearing of his mom. What he chooses to engage in once he turned 18yrs of age, is his doing. I’ve seen children who were raised by awesome parents and even years after they left the nest, they begin to rebel and lead chaotic lives. Many here cast stones liberally but haven’t taken a look in the mirror or even know what is really going on in the lives of their own family.
Y’all act like people weren’t murdering other people or family members before this. Its “shocking” because its so close to home for some of y’all, but the fact of the matter is that’s how sh*t is. There will always be murders and there will always be victims. All we can do as a society is try our best to catch the early warning signs and hope for best.