Freaky Flint History: Praying for Forgiveness December 3th, 1918

Flint is well known for its modern violent crimes but Flint's history is filled with little known stories that read stranger than fiction. Gruesome murders, weird accidents, and violent deaths. Join us every Thursday as Joe Schipani details some of the odd but true deaths he found in Flint's archives.

In the December of 1918 Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Zabijak had been married for a little over three years.

The couple’s marriage was rocky from the start.

Joseph had a hard time holding down a job, and the little money he made, he would waste. Joseph would brag to his wife about running around with other women, and after the birth of their second child, he filed for divorce claiming she was an unfit wife.

With the help of her mother she got the divorce claim appealed due to the fact he had not lived in Flint for a year. She filed a claim for nonsupport.

Joseph held his mother in law responsible for their marital troubles.

On Tuesday afternoon Joseph received the divorce bill from his wife and went to talk with her.

According to the police report, she asked him what they were going to do, he told her he was going to end their troubles by killing her.

At the time she was holding their six month old baby.

Joseph pulled out his gun and shot her and the baby.

He ran out of the house and over to his mother in laws. She was in the yard. He fired two shots that hit her in the neck and killed her instantly.

Then he ran to the church he and his wife were married in, knelt before the crucifix and started praying for forgiveness.

After praying he took the pistol, placed it in his mouth, and fired.

The bullet went through his jaw, missing his neck and leaving him wounded.

As he reloaded the pistol he was stopped by a member of the church who had heard the gunfire.

When the police arrived at the church Joseph confessed to what he had done.

The police officer called the station and sent officers go to the other two locations.
Officers were already on scene at Joseph’s wife’s house. A neighbor heard the gunfire and came to help as soon as she saw him leave.

The wife and the baby were rushed to Hurley hospital.

The baby died on the way to the hospital.

The wife’s wound was minor and she was released to go home after a couple days.

Joseph survived with only a split tongue and scar on the bottom of his jaw where the bullet exited.

He spent the rest of his life in prison for the murder of his mother in law and six month old child.  

~ Joe Schipani is the Executive Director of the Flint Public Art Project and the FFAR Project Assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.  Find him on Facebook at 

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