36-year-old Nora Zylstra charged in death of 14-month-old son

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The mother of a 14-month-old baby boy that was found dead inside a south side home on Sunday afternoon, March 9th, has been charged in the case. 36-year-old Nora Zylstra made her initial court appearance on Tuesday morning, March 11th.

Nora Zylstra

Nora Zylstra

Zylstra is facing one count of first-degree intentional homicide.

14-month-old Leonidas Fisher was found dead inside a home near 76th and Morgan Ave. on Sunday afternoon.

According to the criminal complaint, Zylstra suffocated the baby with a pillow before she attempted to take her own life by ingesting pills and then getting into the bathtub with a toaster.

The complaint indicates that Zylstra began to contemplate killing her son and herself on March 9th after the baby's father refused to get back together.

Leonidas Fisher

Leonidas Fisher

The baby’s father reportedly broke off his relationship with Zylstra in February.

The complaint indicates that the baby's father received a text message from Zylstra around 5:30 a.m. on March 9th that stated the house key was under the back mat, and for him to come over. At that time, he told police he became suspicious and began texting Zylstra -- but she never responded.

The baby’s father then called police — which led them to perform a welfare check.

When police arrived on scene, they found four envelopes addressed to family members of Zylstra. Officers then heard  moaning, and found Zylstra lying on a bed in her bedroom. Pills were located in her vicinity.

leonidas fisher

Police then went to the second bedroom in the home and observed 14-month-old Leonidas Fisher unconscious and not breathing in a crib, according to the complaint.

The complaint indicates that Zylstra told police she wanted to reconcile with the baby's father because she did not want their son to deal with the pain and suffering of growing up in a broken home. However, when the father refused to reconcile, she began to think about her responsibilities and bills.

Zylstra told police that she then began Googling ways to die -- claiming that she thought it was the best solution. Shortly after, she began to write goodbye letters to her mom, brother and the baby's father.

According to the criminal complaint, Zylstra took several Percocet, Atenolol and Zanaz before placing a blanket and pillow over Fisher's face. After Fisher stopped moving, Zylstra then got into a bathtub with a toaster in an effort to kill herself, but it didn't work.

If convicted, Zylstra could face life in prison.

Zylstra has a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 21st.


  • Leila

    Mental illness is a very serious, under-recognized, and misunderstood condition and could certainly play a major role in this case. It is by no means a “cop-out.” Depression is a very serious disease and it is people with ignorant views (i.e. ones that call it a “cop-out”) that many people are afraid to seek the treatment they need before it’s too late.

    • LaToya

      People are running with this “depression” only because her family made the comment that she was in a depressed mood prior to the incident. I doubt that this woman was truly depresssed, just sad that her baby’s father didn’t want her anymore and she was faced with raising her baby on her own! We may never know whether or not she had a dx of depression, but I seriously doubt it. In this case from what I read and hear maybe her “depression” was just situational. Either way I won’t make excuses for her…she killed her baby. Do you know how long it takes to strangle or suffocate someone? At least 2 minutes. Hold your breath for 2 minutes and put yourself in the baby’s position. Her baby suffered in agony, and I’m sure was terrified and confused as to why “mommy” was doing this. Depressed? Yeah right, it must make the family feel better to think that way.

      • john

        “raising a child on her own…” which I wonder is part of the problem. I see too many men just leave a relationship and not care about the woman “he once loved” and more despicable not care about the child he brought into the world. In a selfish move, he has found something “better”, so he thinks. I don’t know if that is the case here, but I do wonder. What this woman did is very wrong especially with adoption being an option. No excuse for her but sadly I am seeing a trend of young men who do not respect their women and children’s welfare. So “raising a child on your own” is a big problem and a reasonable fear for a woman in a two income household era.

  • shari

    Leila is absolutely right. yes, she needs to pay for her crime but I still agree there is an underlying illness. She worked at a hospital I work at and many of know a diiferent side to her.

  • k

    It is not a cop out and many don’t seek treatment even knowing it is out there. It is a serious thing and granted we don’t know all details. May she get the help she needs.

  • Mary Kay Maertz

    This is a very sad situation and people should realize that no one should judge. There is only one judge, and she will meet him someday. I know this girl and her family. They are good people. My heart breaks for all of them. To the Father, you have my prayers. To all family members, my thoughts and prayers will be for you. May God help you and give you peace.

  • Sue Haese

    Don’t judge until you know the whole situation. I know her and her family. It is an awful situation and many many people are hurt and saddened by the loss of this beautiful little boy. There is much more to this story than a short media story.

    • spoo

      Ain’t THAT the truth. I wonder why we even have news sometimes. The whole story is often never told.

  • Mike Johnson

    she has confessed to what she did can we just avoid all the court proceedings lock her up for life and be done with it? and also everybody said at first not to judge this woman as no one knew the circumstances well here it is from the horses mouth is it ok for us to call her a monster now? because she is

  • Kindness

    Well I can say that your employer needs to be support in times of need, offering services to help instead of hindering them. We all are human and are at risk for error. The True Judge is Jehovah.

  • Jack Frost

    Its almost always the case that people so unforgiving and quick to judge are the first ones begging for mercy from others when they do something wrong.

    What a terrible ending for this little baby and all of the family and people this tragedy will effect for a lifetime. Nora was clearly not in her right mind. Her mother and family are wonderful people and this is not the Nora I knew growing up. Thoughts and prayers to everybody involved.

  • Grace

    I know the family of the father and mother personally and I will say he was nothing but a wonderful, loving father who only wanted to be a daddy to his son. What she did to her baby and him, aswell as his and her family is nothing short of horrifying and only a monster with complete lack of empathy could do this. Nora was afraid to raise this baby alone?? She never would have had too, his father wouldn’t have even hesitated for a minute to take him and tried from the moment he left her just to get time with him. She is selfish and plain out disgusting for what she did, not because she was concerned about bills or responsibilities, but to hurt Leo’s father for ruining a perfect image she thought she had to maintain. She deserves to never see the light of day as a free person. Please keep Leo’s father and all there family in your thoughts.

  • james

    Ok you ignorant people…i know the family…i have held Leo talked to Nora plenty of times know her parents best friends with her brother…now she DID suffer from depression well before this sad sad incident….it was very REAL…i witnessed it…her family is saddened and struggling and to see ignorant people make irrational stupid comments without knowing what is happening or had happened is sad. Whatever happened to the day people giving condolences saying god bless. There is way more to this than any of you know….and NO I do NOT CONDONE what she did…i loved baby leo…he was beautiful. .full of laughter I loved him…but if his family can find forgiveness I’m sure u all can…since none of you know any of them personally unlike them

    • My friend

      James- I do understand your trying to support your friend. I do feel sorry for what her family is going through. Again, something most of us will never have to experience. My heart goes out to her family too.

      With that said- Nora doesn’t deserve forgiveness for killing their child, destroying the fathers life long with her families. A lot of life’s have be ruined by ones actions!

      Nora will spend the rest of her life in prison. Maybe in time one can forgive but, one will never forget this tragedy.

    • Grace

      I mean if she suffered from depression that was so terrible that she thought this was her only option why didn’t you reach out to her before she murdered this baby? More to this than we will ever know? What reasons in this world would there ever be to hurt and kill a child? The manner in which she choose to take this baby’s life was perticularly painful for him and flat out horrifying.
      I worked with woman and children who were survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. These survivors suffered far more trials an depression than this selfish, spoiled woman could ever imagine….and out of the close to 1000 of them not one ever hurt or killed their children.
      No excuses, I hope she spend the rest of her life in prison, and that isn’t even close to the justice that Leonidas and his father deserve for what she has done.

  • My friend

    This is very sad. I’m good friends with the father. He would bend over backwards for anyone. He wasn’t going to abandon his son. Hell, he sent custody papers.

    I do hope she spends the rest of her life in prison! Some of the comments that she told detectives are idiotic. She didn’t want Leo to suffer a broken home? How the hell was he going to suffer a broken home when the father was going to help raise the child!?!? Now, the family claims she’s depressed? Really? I know her parents are “well off”. Dad is a doctor and mom a nurse. Please, don’t go for the insanity plea! How can one murder their own child? To top it off she didn’t have the courage to take her own life? Coward!

    Nora Zylstra deserves life in a maximum security prison! She then can spend every minute of the day thinking about how she took her child’s life and the damage she did to the “father”. Not only the father will grieve but, she will cause pain to her intermediate family.

    I had to “vent” on here because, I’m saddened and angry at the same time. What my friend is going through right now has to be something most, if not all of us will ever have to go through in life. The unimaginable “pain” this man is going through? Wow, my heart aches for him.

    This man needs all the support and love from all of his friends and family. He’s going to have a rough road ahead of him. Some days will be harder then others but, he’ll have to try and stay positive. He will not have to do this alone and I will be sure to tell him this when I honor Leo this weekend.

  • S

    Remember that a mother’s first responsibility to her children is making sure there are no monsters under the bed. This monster crept out in the guise of “depression” and thinks the world is blind to it’s mask? This was the ultimate act of selfishness. Don’t make this about N Zilstra. There was only one victim and that was the poor beautiful child she murdered. Pray for Leonidas and his father.

  • Sad

    This is a message for Luke. I worked with Nora for a few years and could tell that she had issues. But never in my wildest imagination could I have ever predicted that she was capable of hurting her baby.NO one could have thought that this would have ever happened and I hope and pray that you don’t blame yourself for what happened. I pray often for you, that you eventually find some peace to live with your son’s death. Little Leo is being cared for in loving arms, just not on earth like we would all have wished for. Take care of yourself and many prayers are going your way.

  • sickened

    I also know the murderer ( can’t bring myself to calling her a mother). Always played the “victim”, had no loyalties to anyone and was very vindictive and mean.

  • Read Deeply

    There is no such thing as “zanaz.” Apart from that, this is so sad. Single moms get so little support, financial, emotional, etc. from some fathers it is criminal. He must have known she was on the edge…. how long did he wait to call the police and why did he put HIS responsibilities in their hands?

    • sparks

      Yes, shame on you. This father did everything right in this situation. He did right by his son, and by his son’s evil mother despite her being completely undeserving of it. He put up with her verbal abuse and manipulative games and in return treated her with respect and patience…ALWAYS. A much lesser man would have treated her like she deserves and wrung her neck. You obviously know nothing about him and for you to speak so carelessly about a good man, and a wonderful father who is suffering in the worst way, is disgusting.

  • sickened

    Read Deeply: The father filled for custody, set up child support and continued to pay for HER expenses the week he left her. (All documented) As a father myself and personal friend of the fathers I know he took all the legal and appropriate steps to not only to provide for his son but went beyond in the support he needed to for the Murderer. There are single mom’s with great hardship who work harder than this weak, extravagant, selfish murderer ever would have had to. These are real women who put their own selfish interests aside and make their first Job, a mother, the most important thing in the world. Support a murderer who thinks she has the right to take another human beings life? A perfect little boy’s life? Only a person with little knowledge of the situation and this monster could.Shame on you.

  • incensed

    I’ve never heard a murderer described as a “good woman”. I am a good woman and no good woman in all of humanity could even think of doing the “horror” she did. Could you stand there and watch someone even do this to a puppy? A beautiful little boy? Lucky you were not close to her Andy. You might have had a child with her and then deal with the pain of her murdering YOUR son.

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