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Daughter’s Nightmare Come True: Find’s Mom’s Body In Basement Freezer

January 4, 1989 GMT

PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) _ A daughter haunted by nightmares about her mother’s 1985 disappearance pried open a locked basement freezer and found the woman’s battered body, prompting her father’s confession to the slaying, police say.

Leonard Tyburski, who told police he kept the body in the freezer for 3 1/2 years because he loved his wife and didn’t want to part with her, was charged with murder, authorities said.

″It has some indications of Edgar Allan Poe and even some Alfred Hitchcock,″ said District Judge James Garber, who arraigned Tyburski on Tuesday and ordered him held without bond in the Wayne County Jail.


Garber delayed scheduling a preliminary hearing until Tyburski, 45, underwent psychiatric tests to determine whether he was competent to stand trial.

Tyburski, dean of students at Detroit’s Mackenzie High School, had cooperated with police investigating his wife’s disappearance. Dorothy Tyburski was 37 when he reported her missing on Oct. 2, 1985. Tyburski passed a lie-detector test and hadn’t been considered a suspect, police said.

The case, treated as a missing person report, had been closed for two years.

But disturbing dreams by one of the couple’s daughters led her to suspect her mother’s body was somewhere in the house, police said.

Kelly Tyburski, a 20-year-old art student at Michigan State University, ″had nightmares or dreams or whatever you want to call them, that her mother was in a place where she couldn’t move, either tied up or locked up,″ said police Detective Richard Pomorski of Canton Township, a middle-class community 25 miles west of Detroit.

She didn’t suspect her father until she remembered the freezer had been used before her mother’s disappearance, and the key to it had disappeared, he said.

Later, Detective Keith Lazar said, the daughter’s dreams gave way to suspicions when Tyburski began making up stories about why the key was missing.

On Monday, she pried the lock off the 15-cubic-foot freezer while her father was away, police said. She found blood on the lid and sides and her mother’s clothed body bent over meat wrapped in butcher paper, police said.

Kelly Tyburski and her 16-year-old sister, Kim, called a friend who drove them to the police station, ignoring their father as he returned home, detectives said. Police obtained a warrant and arrested Tyburski.


Later, Tyburski told police he killed his wife during an argument on Sept. 28, 1985, Pomorski said.

″It appeared he felt sorry for her,″ Pomorski said. ″He kept her in the basement for 3 1/2 years. His reason was that he loved her. He didn’t want to part with her.″

Tyburski’s daughters appeared with him during his arraignment but did not speak with reporters.

The cause of death remained undetermined pending an autopsy, Lazar said.

The couple had been married 17 years when Tyburski reported his wife missing. Police said Tyburski told them his wife had left ″with the clothes on her back″ after an argument and that she told him in late October 1985 that she planned to settle in Toledo, Ohio.

Police had no reason to suspect foul play ″because people leave home all the time″ Detective Lt. Larry Stewart said. ″We did some relatively minor checking.″

Tyburski passed a lie detector test, and later told police and neighbors his wife had moved to Ohio and that she might have left because of emotional problems stemming from the death of a sister, Stewart said.