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Killed in their pajamas: Listen to the story of Wade and Ellen Zick, murdered 45 years ago this weekend

On the morning of July 11, 1976, in Zeeland, N.D. the congregation at Zion Lutheran Church was very perplexed. Where in the world was their choir director Wade Zick and his wife Ellen? Never before had the Zicks missed church without notice. As the day wore on it became clear that all was not well in the sleepy little town near the South Dakota state line.

Pictured left to right, David Feist, Gregory Huber and Sebastian Feist kidnapped and murdered Wade and Ellen Zick in July of 1976 in Zeeland, N.D. / North Dakota Bureau of Investigation photo, July 19, 1976
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Everybody in town knew Wade Zick, bank manager and choir director at Zion Lutheran church. They knew his wife Ellen, too.

The couple were a fixture in the community and very involved in church affairs. When the Zicks failed to show up to church on July 11, 1976, it became clear that something was not right in the the little town of Zeeland.

Wade and Ellen Zick pictured here at their wedding were tragically murdered on July 11, 1976 / courtesy Mike Wald

By the end of that fateful Sunday, McIntosh County Sheriff Milton Wiest made the sorrowful announcement: Wade and Ellen Zick were dead, murdered in a gravel pit outside of town.


As shocking as this news was to the community, so was word that law enforcement were searching for three local young men.

David Feist, his brother Sebastian Feist and Gregory Huber seemed to have fled the area and were suspected of first kidnapping the Zicks, then forcing them to the bank. before finally shotgunning the couple to death outside of town.

Watch TV-News from 1976 Zeeland

Video courtesy North Dakota State Archives

Listen to the full story

Dakota Spotlight Podcast covered this story in depth in 2019. Listen to all seven podcast episodes to get the full story of this tragic crime from rural N.D.



RELATED: Other true Crime podcasts BY JAMES WOLNER

RELATED Podcast homepage | Newsletter | Season 3 videos | Season 2: 1976 Zick murders |


James Wolner is a Digital Content Producer at Forum Communications Company, Fargo North Dakota and the creator, producer and host of Dakota Spotlight, a true crime podcast. He has lived the Upper Midwest since 2013 and studied photojournalism at California State University at Fresno. He is fluent in English and Swedish.
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