• Crime In The Mitten

Episode #12- Mysterious Murder of Daisy Zick

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

Mysterious Murder of Daisy Zick

Hey there true crime lovers, it’s Alia back with a new story for you. Before we start, we have new self car tips for you. Mine is to stay moisturized, find some type of body butter, even if you have to make it yourself and stay moisturized. If I decide to purchase one I get it from Oyin Handmade. They have an online shop with a points system, so each purchase is so many points and after so many points is something free. Another great one is Tree Hut, they all smell so good, but my favorite scent is the one my boyfriend uses and I steal it from him every chance I get is the tropical mango one. When I don’t buy one, I make my own. It’s simple stuff you can get from a health food store near you, my favorite store besides Whole Foods is the Health Food Patch in Ferndale if you live in Michigan. If you get straight out the tub or shower and put on a good oil, my favorite is avocado then the butter on top, your skin will feel amazing all day long.

I picked this case because it caught my attention when I saw the Kellog’s factory. I remember going there for a field trip in the second grade. I’m pretty sure my mom still has the picture, but part of the trip was everyone got a box of Frosted Flakes with them on the box standing next to Tony the Tiger. I still remember the outfit I wore, the pose, everything about that picture. But now to the actual case, prior to this murder Calhoun County was considered a safe area. Murders weren’t really a thing and all crime was solved within days. Daisy Zick was a lively, perky, friendly, 46 year old woman in 1963. She was a smaller woman, short and slider, with a nice smile and red hair. She lived with her husband Floyd in Wattles Park outside of Battle Creek. She was a neat freak and kept their small home clean. The weather that day was super cold on January 14, 1963, with six inches of snow on the ground. The weather the night before was only zero degrees. It was freezing out, but the day went on as normal. Floyd was up and ready to leave for work at 7:45, he woke up his wife, like he did everyday and headed out. She didn’t have to leave for her shift at the Kellogg's Factory until 11am. Like everyday, Floyd called Daisy to check in on her around 9am. She was getting ready to take a bath to get ready to go on her coffee date. Daisy had a coffee date that morning, around 10am with her friend and coworker, Audrey Heminger, at Vello’s Restaurant.

Soon after she made a phone call to the Battle Creek Health Center and spoke to Irene Taylor about her insurance. Irene said that Daisy seemed normal in her conversational tone. A few minutes after 9, Daisy got a phone call from Raymond Mercer. Mercer was a guy from the plant who she had been having an affair with for the past two years. Their relationship was no secret to anyone at the factory. This wasn't the first time she had a boyfriend while with her husband, Mercer was just the current. He had just called to say hi and that he couldn't wait to see her at the factory later that day.

Daisy had started to get ready for her shift at the factory. In the table sat a brown paper bag with a napkin and banana inside. A sandwich, cheese, and two pickles were wrapped individually in wax paper next to the brown bag. Her white work shoes were in a bag on the table, so she wouldn't forget them. Around 9:30, the cleaning woman for the neighbors, May Tolls, was outside shaking off a rug. She noticed that Daisy's drapes were opened, which was unusual because she didn't normally open them until she was leaving for work. Tolls and Daisy didn't know each other, they would just wave and keep going, but being so close by, she Tolls knew Daisy's schedule. A little before 10am, Audrey called Daisy and they spoke for a moment, that was the last person to speak to her before death.

After 10am, Mrs. George DeFrance, the neighbor from across the street, saw someone standing at the breezeway at the Zick home. She couldn't see much of him, but noticed what looked to be a medium height, possible black man with dark hair, wearing a dark blue jacket. Daisy was known to have men over in the morning while her husband was at work, so Mrs. DeFrance thought nothing of it. She didn't think about how weird it was for a guy to be outside in the freezing cold weather that day with no car. She just went on about her business. About 20 minutes later while letting her dog out, Mrs. DeFrance noticed that Daisy's side of the two door garage was bbn open and her car was gone. She knew that Daisy would never leave her door open.

When it was time for the Vello's coffee meeting, Audrey was there, but Daisy was not. Audrey was concerned about her friend not coming, but figured maybe something important had come up. When Aubrey got to work, Daisy was still nowhere to be found. Her supervisor said she never even called in, she had never no showed up to work without calling in. Aubrey checked to see if Raymond Mercer had heard from Daisy or knew why she wasn't at work. He let her know he talked to her earlier that day and it sound like she had planned to be at work that day. He went out on his lunch to see if he saw her white 1959 tow two door model Pontiac, but he didn't, there was still no sign of Daisy.

After she didn't get an answer from calling the house phone, Aubrey called Floyd's work phone. He was worried, with her not showing up to Vello's to meet with Aubrey or to work without calling in. He got his stuff together and headed out to search. He thought maybe her car had broken down because of the extreme temperatures. On Evenston Road at the Pine Knoll Golf Course, Floyd saw Daisy's car. He said "It looked like our car. I slowed down, turned around, parked behind the car and looked at the license number. It was our car. I thought Daisy had become sick. Maybe she was lying down inside the car. I got out and looked in the care. She wasn't in it. I got in the car to see if the motor would run. There were no keys in the ignition, but I used my set of keys to start it."

This still didn't explain where his wife was. He didn't look in the snow for footprints, because he didn't mention the man's footprints going away from the car. He went home in his own car to notice Daisy's garage door open. Once again, Daisy would never leave her door open, his worry only grew deeper. The door from the breezeway to the kitchen was open a little when he went to open it, then he saw her lunch and shoes were still sitting on the table. He called out to Daisy, but didn't get an answer. He looked into the living room and everything seemed to be normal, except for the damp spot on the rug, something his neat freak wife would never allow. In the bed, the bedspread wasn't nearly as neat as Daisy would have left it. Not only was it wrinkled, but there was what looked like blood splatter over the spread. Her purse had been dumped out and was sitting neatly on the floor at the foot of the bed. Her wallet and checkbook were neatly placed on the bed. He ran into the kitchen to notice that the house phone cord had been cut.

Next, he made it to the spare bedroom where the hi-fi console was pulled from the wall. Shout out to google, a hi-fi console is basically a record player that is built into a cabinet. Blood was splattered across the wall. He saw her feet sticking out from behind the bed in her black and gold slippers. One leg was twisted as she laid between the bed and the wall. She was unrecognizable from the blood that covered her body. Her hands were tied behind her back and there were several blood puddles on the carpet. With all the blood, Floyd thought that Daisy had been shot. He went down to the phone in the basement to call his job, telling them that his wife had been shit and asked them to call the police for him. Then he called Audrey to let her know what he walked in to. He sat in the house for 15 minutes before the police.

Michigan State Police Detective Charles Conn and troopers Robert Dockery and Ralph Kartheu were the first to the scene. Floyd was questioned about what he had seen or touched. Officers from Calhoun County’s small sheriff's office arrived soon after. The bedroom where Daisy was found only had one window that was locked and was covered with both blinds and curtains. She was laying on the power cord of the hi-fi console that was supposed to be on the wall, but was pulled closer to her body. There were signs of a struggle and the carpet had light blood stains and at least two puddles of blood on it. The splatters on the wall showed that she had been attacked while at floor height. There was splatter on the bedspread and a smear. Even though there was a clear sign of a fight or struggle, there were five records stacked neatly on the blood. Because of all the blood, Floyd thought that Daisy had been shot, but she had been stabbed. She was wearing a white blouse that was completely drenched in blood, brown slacks, and her slippers. Her pants were slightly unzipped, it looked as if the zipper was pulled forcefully and jammed. They were pulled down about just a little but her underwear were in place and there were no signs of rape. She had been stabbed repeatedly, mostly in her left breast and on the left side of her back. Yellow cotton fibers were found on her pants and behind her ear.

In their master bedroom, there was an outline in the bed, like someone had been pushed on the bed. A lipstick smear was also on the bed as if she had been thrown down face down. The purse that had been emptied and was on the floor was missing about $45. Her paycheck from Kellogg’s for $25.96 had not been taken, and all of the checks in her checkbook were accounted for. He had left so many valuable things behind, they counted out a robbery gone wrong. The cotton fibers that were found on her, were also found on the bed as well as the kitchen door. It was decided that it probably came from gloves worn by her attacker.

In the kitchen sink was a box cutter. The knife had a three and a half inch blade with a flat

front with a pointed sharp edge and it had a wooden handle. It was like what they would use in the Kellogg’s Factory with what looked like blood on the blade. There wasn’t enough blood on it to be tested for human or animal blood, but Floyd said that Daisy had used the knife the night before to cut chicken. After moving to the garage, the only evidence that was found was yellow fibers on Daisy's side of the garage, just a little above the door knob. The yellow gloves that the suspected the fibers came from were frequently worn by hunters, fishers and workers at the Kellogg's plant. Daisy always kept all the doors in the house closed and locked, but the front door was unlocked and the door leading into the breezeway was open and unlocked. If that was true on that day as well, she had to have let in her killer on her own, not expecting things to get violent.

Inspector Charles Cobb checked Daisy’s car that was left on the side of the road. She kept her car just as clean as she kept her home. There was blood smeared on the outside of the passenger side door, near the handle. It looked like someone with blood on their clothes brushed up against the car. A few sets of fingerprints were found that didn't belong to the couple. All the extra prints were later accounted for, except for one. Yellow cotton fibers were on the front hood release lever.

I said in the beginning that in the 60s, crime like this in Battle Creek like this was unheard of. They only had about one murder a year and the crimes were always quickly solved. According to the law, Daisy's body could not be removed from the home until the Calhoun County medical examiner ruled her as dead. Because crime was low at that time, the job as medical examiner was only a part time job. It took hours before Dr. Richard Bloch arrived at the Zick's and it took just seconds for him to complete his investigation. By 4:40pm when Dr. Bloch had ruled her dead, rigor mortis had set in and he ruled her time of death to be around 11:00am.

Daisy Zink’s autopsy took place at the Farley Funeral Home of Battle Creek by Dr. William Walters. During the autopsy, it was noticed that she had 15 stab wounds around her left breast, eight were closely together, a slash on her left collarbone, four slashing cuts across her left arm, there was bruising across her right ear that would have left her dazed. Six puncture wounds on the left side of her back either came from being stabbed while she was faced down or while running away. The wounds on her arms came from her trying to fight back. She broke 3 ribs. Daisy bled to death. Detective Sergeant Dan Myre brought the knife that had been found in the Zick's kitchen sink. Dr. Walters looked at the blade and said that in his opinion, the blade was not the murder. The end of the blade did not seem to match the stab wounds. Dr. Walters never suggested any other description about the kind of knife that could have been used. The investigation team thought otherwise. They believed that thrust angled downward would have allowed its tiny point to duplicate the wounds that Daisy had. There was still a sharp edge on the blade there could have easily caused the injuries. Despite what Dr. Walter's said, the investigators were sure they had the murder weapon and tagged it into evidence.

The person who killed her went into the house through the kitchen door, it was someone she either knew well enough to let in, or the tricked her into letting him in. The person left the home in Daisy’s car which means either they walked to her home or was dropped off there. They also had to have known her schedule, they knew that she was home alone in the morning because she didn’t go into work until later in the afternoon.

There were a few witnesses on that day of January 14, 1963. Sergeant Fred Ritchie of the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department had been late trying to get to court to transport a prisoner. While driving on Michigan Avenue, he came up the hill near Evanston Road. He spotted the white Pontiac Bonneville, but didn't think much of it because the extremely cold weather had killed many cars that morning. Sgt. Ritchie saw a man in a blue coat, what looked like a navy peacoat, walking toward Battle Creek not too far from the car. He didn’t check the time or get a good look at the man because he was late for court. Sharon Brown lived at 1189 East Michigan Avenue, where the car had been left. When the troopers went to her home, she said that she had seen the vehicle around 10:30 a.m. A few days later she contacted the investing officers to revise her stated time. She said she saw the car closer to

11:00 a.m. after thinking about it some more.

Investigators made a check of the Dog ’n Suds restaurant on the other side of the street less than a quarter of a mile from where the car had been abandoned. Dressie Lampkin had been working that day, filling in for her sister, who usually worked at that time. She remembered only one customer during that time, a man who came in, left, and later returned. He came back at 11:30 a.m., just as she was leaving for the day. He was a white male, in light tan clothing and a topcoat. She remembered him because he flirted with her. Dressie did not notice anything out of the ordinary about the man. A few more witnesses noticed the car, all between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Someone noticed a dark haired man in a blue coat driving the Zick's car.

Of course Floyd Zick was looked at as a suspect in his wife's murder. Could he have killed her out of jealousy? It was known that his wife was having affairs. Floyd was questioned plenty of times and volunteered to take multiple polygraph tests. He was seen at work by many people and before that, he picked someone up for work, so he was accounted for the entire day. He didn't leave work until he got that call from Daisy's friend Audrey asking if he had seen Daisy. There were multiple other theories about Daisy's murder. Most of them made no sense at all. Everyone who crossed their paths as a suspect fingerprints were tested against the unaccounted set that was found in her car. There was no evidence that those fingerprints came from the killer, but if the prints didn't match the suspect, they were let go.

William Daily was the Zick's mailman, he was one of the suspects in the murder. In an interview with Susan Daily, who was married to William's son James, she said that at the time of Daisy's murder she and her husband had been living with William and his wife Virginia. Susan said she remembered William acting strange the day of the murder. He told her that he had seen a man walking down Michigan Ave., where the car was abandoned. He also told her that he had taken several polygraph tests that day. It was on record that he told police he had seen a woman walking, not a man. William never took any polygraph tests. He was asked to, but before the police got a chance to take the test, he moved to Florida and never returned. Susan said that William made inappropriate advances towards her and threatened her by saying that he knew who killed Daisy. In 1966, he broke down a door trying to choke Susan, saying that she was his wife, and her child was his. Later in the the 80s in an interview with Virginia, she claimed that William didn't have a good relationship with his mother, who was a small attractive woman with red hair.

All information from this transcript came from the book, "Murder in Battle Creek: The Mysterious Murder of Daisy Zick", by Blaine L. Pardoe.

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