The one-year anniversary of the murder of Brittany Sue Zimmermann-April 2, 2008- will soon be upon the Madison community. Chief Noble Wray believes it is important, at this juncture, to let the public know, generally where the investigation into Brittany's homicide stands.
An MPD investigative team continues to work this case very hard, and detectives are making progress. The probe has become much more focused, and those assigned to it firmly believe they will find the person, or persons, responsible for Brittany's senseless death.
"We continue to be confident, that with the support of the Zimmermann family, and the community, that the caring professionals of the Madison Police Department (MPD) will solve this tragic crime," said Chief Wray.
The investigative team consists of: a supervising lieutenant, two full-time detectives, two half-time detectives, a part-time crime analyst, a full-time intelligence assessment officer, and other MPD staff members are brought in to work the case as needed. Over the course of this past year, 143 different MPD officers have spent time on the Zimmermann case.
The MPD has also partnered with other law enforcement professionals for additional expertise and assistance. They include:
• Wisconsin Department of Justice, Department of Criminal Investigation
• Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory
• Dane County Coroner's Office
• Federal Bureau of Investigation
• University of Wisconsin Police
• Wisconsin State Capitol Police
• Dane County Sheriff's Department
Stranger homicides - where there is no known relationship between victim and suspect- are the toughest to solve. Brittany's is one of those difficult cases, as was Joel Marino's. Finding the Madison businessman's killer in Minnesota required time-intensive police work. Such a deliberative process is ongoing in Brittany's case. Science and best police practices are being brought to bear on the investigation. Thus far, 200 tips, and 2900 pages of reports have been generated. Detectives have come up with over 830 names of individuals worth checking out; over 700 of them have been contacted to date.
Brittany was 21-years old, and a third-year senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, when her life was cut short. Studying in the UW's medical microbiology and immunology department, she planned to get a doctorate in infectious disease. Her dream was to find cures for some of the word's horrible diseases and viruses.
Brittany is survived by her loving family, and her "soul mate" - fiancé Jordan Gonnering.
Brittany's aunt, Kim Heeg, is spokesperson for the family:
'It will get better with time'…. "We have heard this statement frequently over the past year. The truth is that the heartache we feel today is even worse than that of a year ago. The realization that never again will we hear Brittany's contagious laugh, see her infectious smile, or feel her arms around us in a hug is more than words can express. We all lost so much a year ago. The world lost a beautiful young woman with so much to offer. We, her family, lost a part of our hearts that will never be filled and feel a physical pain in our bodies each and every day. Brittany loved life and she loved her family; we will spend every minute of everyday loving her and missing her amazing presence."
To honor Brittany's memory, her family set up a college scholarship program in her hometown of Marshfield. Those wishing to do something positive in Brittany's name - on the anniversary of her death - have the opportunity to help financially challenged young people earn college degrees. Contributions to the "Dollars for Brittany" fund can be sent to: The Brittany Zimmermann Memorial Fund, Marshfield Medical Center Credit Union, P.O. Box 279, Marshfield, WI 54449.
"We continue to be grateful for the community support we have received and proudly announce that the first ever Brittany Zimmermann Memorial Scholarship will be awarded this spring," said Heeg.
In addition to scholarship money, Brittany's family has established a private reward fund. It currently stands at $15,000. Anyone with tips or information should call Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014. Callers can remain anonymous. Crime Stoppers also has a separate reward fund of up to $1,000.
"We would again like to thank the community for their support with the reward fund and we can only pray that it helps lead to an arrest and conviction very soon," said Heeg, adding, "We remain appreciative of the ongoing investigative efforts by the Madison Police Department and remain hopeful that justice will be served."
The thoughts of the men and women of the Madison Police Department are with the Zimmermann and Gonnering families on this anniversary of Brittany's passing.
They will continue to pursue with vigor-justice for all who have been victimized by this crime.
Brittany's parents have asked media to respect their privacy during this difficult and emotional time. They are not doing interviews, or providing additional comments.
- Captain Mary Schauf, 608-261-9694
- Joel DeSpain, 608-266-4897