Mary Jane and Tom Zich met while she was a waitress in a small restaurant and he was a customer. They married and Mary Jane's life changed dramatically. Family members say Tom was quite jealous and abusive to Mary Jane soon after they were married. They say that she was isolated from them, that even though Mary Jane was very family oriented, there was no contact with them on a regular basis.
November 29, 1991 was the last time that Mary Jane Zich was seen alive. She and her daughter, Desiree, had just returned to their Toledo, Ohio home after visiting her parents for Thanksgiving. While on her visit, Mary Jane discussed the violence in her marriage to Tom Zich and told her parents that she was planning on divorcing him. According to reports to police given by Tom at the time, she received a phone call, left the house and didn't return, leaving 3 year old Desiree behind.
Apparently when Mary Jane returned home on November 28 from her family visit, she announced to Tom that, although they had been married less than a year, she wanted a divorce. No one knows what happened next or how Tom took the news, but on December 7, 1991 Tom reported her missing.
On December 18, 1991, Toledo police got a tip, found Mary Jane's car, opened the trunk to find her body, frozen. Tom Zich said "he didn't do it" and time marched on, Tom married wife #6, and little Desiree grew up.
In 2005, 14 years after Mary Jane's frozen body was found, cold case investigators took another look at the case, reinterviewing several witnesses, including Tom, who still denies having anything to do with Mary Jane's frozen body. Finally, in 2007, Tom Zich was indicted for the murder of his then wife, Mary Jane Zich.
Desiree Anaverde is now Desiree Pena, married and a mother herself, who grew up with a secret that is only now coming to light. Desiree will testify in her mother's murder trial that she witnessed Tom Zich murder her and put her body into the trunk of her car. I'm sure there will be a lot of legal wrangling on the testimony of a then 3 year old, however, I'm sure that Desiree will rest easier knowing that she will be a part of bringing justice to the memory of her mother.
"[The years after her death] were very difficult. It was very hard," she said. "You have the rest of your family; but to not have the one person you depend on, it's just really hard."Three of Tom's former wives were also granted their turn to testify. It seems that Tom had a history of attacking the throat when he got angry. Mary Jane Zich's cause of death was found to be strangled with a ligature. So it seems that 4 out 6 wives have had Tom Zich's hands around their throats, and one of them is no longer alive.
So many red flags were waving around Thomas Zich as a choice for a husband, why did these women not see them? This type of controlling, manipulative, chameleon-like man is recently coming to the forefront, although they have been around since the beginning of time. Drew Peterson, the poster boy for Narcissists, is still able to get attention from behind bars!
Maybe with attention and education on the issues of domestic violence and spousal murder from advocates like Susan Murphy Milano, we could see less of these cases. In her new book "Time's Up" she will give you step by step directions on how to safely leave an abusive home and not wind up strangled, frozen and found in a trunk.
Dateline NBC, a weekly television newsmagazine, will be taping the trial of Tom Zich for a future episode of the program, which usually airs on Friday nights.
UPDATE: JUNE 18,2009
A JURY FOUND TOM ZICH GUILTY OF THE MURDER OF MARY JANE ZICH