On October 24, 2006 at 12:30pm, Daniel Zank’s body was found on the kitchen floor of his Coon Rapids, Minn. residence with multiple stab wounds. He was 36 years old. Dan was the lead singer for the ‘80s cover band Jet City. He was known to his friends and fans as Danny Z. People were attracted to him and admired his singing voice.
At 9:40 am on that day Dan’s mother, Laura Zank, received a call from him. When she picked it up after two rings, no one was there. She called him back to ask why he didn’t finish the call and got his voice mail. The police estimated that between the time of that call and around 10:30 am Dan was stabbed to death.
His body was discovered by the homeowner, Michelle Gidding, Dan’s 38-year-old girlfriend, when she returned home and found a door had been forced open. Afraid, she left the home and called friends to come over and enter the house with her. Upon the friends’ arrival they entered the home and found Dan dead.
He had been stabbed 14 times, including twice in the buttocks, and two of the wounds would have been fatal. The police report stated Dan had defensive wounds on his arms and hands, there was no blood spray on his body from the knife coming out 14 times, plus they believed his body had been moved. However, the medical examiner ruled his death a suicide. And the circumstances stated in the police report were not mentioned in the ME’s paperwork.
Laura Zank hired a forensic pathologist to review the investigation of her son’s death. In his opinion there were too many questionable things about Dan’s case to support the suicide ruling. Laura’s lawyer took the pathologist’s findings to the medical examiner. She refused to look at the report and the police won’t re-open an investigation unless the ME changes her suicide ruling.
The Zanks aren’t the only family to encounter coroners or medical examiners that refuse to explain their decisions or amend them when credible evidence exists to support changing a previous ruling. Unfortunately, there are more families in their situation than you might think. Perhaps someday victims’ families won’t have to feel they have been victimized twice: First by the loss of their loved one. And again by the very system that is supposed to bring them justice.