Jury convicts Ohio man of killing wife, hiding body in car trunk

TOLEDO (AP) — A man accused of strangling his wife and stuffing her body into a car trunk nearly 18 years ago was convicted of murder Wednesday.

A Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury deliberated for four hours before finding Thomas Zich guilty. Zich, 62, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

The frozen body of his wife, Mary Jane Zich, was found in the trunk of a car outside a bar a week before Christmas 1991.

Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday without calling the defendant’s former stepdaughter to testify. Desiree Andaverde, now 20, was just 3 when, according to prosecutors, she said she saw Thomas Zich put her mother’s body in a trunk.

But the little girl’s startling story, which police said included an account of the killing, didn’t persuade authorities to bring charges against Zich, who lives in Swanton, just west of Toledo. Investigators have not said why they reopened the case in 2005 or what tied Zich to the killing.

Andaverde was on prosecutors’ witness list but wasn’t called upon. The defense had objected to her possible testimony, arguing that her memories were unreliable and that she had made inconsistent statements.

During the trial, assistant prosecutor Chris Anderson said Mary Jane Zich had started seeing another man a year before she was killed.

He said she told family members at a 1991 Thanksgiving gathering that she was divorcing her husband and that they recently had had a big argument. That, he said, was the last time her relatives saw her alive.