April 2, 2008 – Madison, WI – Unsolved
Brittany Zimmermann’s body was Found at 1:08 p.m. by her fiancée, Jordan Gonnering, in their first-floor apartment at 517 W. Doty St. The killer had
broke through a door to get into her apartment before killing her. Zimmermann was cold and lifeless and had been stabbed in the heart so many times
that Gonnering thought she had been shot in the chest.
The autopsy report said that Zimmermann died from “complex homicidal violence including multiple stab wounds and strangulation.” Reports in other
warrants noted she had also been beaten, and nearly half of the knife wounds that killed Zimmermann were to her heart. Police did not find a weapon
at the scene. Valuables were left behind in her apartment, calling into question whether robbery could be a motive.
Zimmermann had dialed 911 for help from her cell-phone but police were not sent to the scene until Gonnering called again. Officials stated that
the employee at the County 911 center heard nothing and then hung up, saying that they receive many calls like this and they can’t follow up on all
of them. Later it was revealed on a recording that the call started with the sound of a woman screaming. The line remained active for a short time
picking up the background sounds of a struggle.
County 911 Center Apologizes “We fumbled the call”
Dane County's 911 Center director admitted May 1, 2008 that his agency made a mistake in fumbling a call from Brittany Zimmermann's cell phone. The
dispatcher who hung up on the call, after saying she heard nothing, remains on the job. The center has a policy to call back when a 911 caller hangs
up or is disconnected.
The gaffe at the 911 center prompted a news conference by 911 chief Norwick and by Madison Police Chief Noble Wray. Norwick said the dispatcher got
busy with other calls and forgot to call back to Zimmermann's phone. “Other 911 calls were waiting, But had we called it back and got the same result
— or if we got somebody's voice mail — we probably wouldn't have sent anybody anyway.” Norwick said the 911 center gets many accidental or erroneous
phone calls. On the day Zimmermann was killed, 115 hang-up calls were received, and 83 of them were from cell phones. Police Chief Wray, however,
said the 911 center ignored evidence in the call which should have resulted in a Madison police officer being dispatched.
In 2009 Zimmermann's parents and Gonnering file lawsuits.
July 2010 a state appeals court panel ruled that Gonnering can't sue the county or anyone else, and Zimmermann's parents will not pursue a wrongful
death claim against Dane County but will instead focus on a claim that the county is responsible for emotional distress that Zimmermann may have
suffered before her death.
Gonnering Released From Lease
There was some question as to if Gonnering would be released from the remaining time on his lease for the apartment. He said he's willing to live
in another one of the company's properties until his lease runs out in August 2009 - just not the one where his fiancée was murdered. Initially the
owner of Wisconsin Management Co., wouldn't say if his company would insist that he fulfill the remaining 16 months. Eventually though they released
a statement saying “We have had the opportunity to speak with Jordan's parents. After discussing what the family wanted, we have decided to release
all parties from any lease obligations.”
Zimmermann Scholarship Drive Launched
The family of slain UW-Madison student Brittany Zimmermann has established a scholarship in her name. “Dollars for Brittany” is coordinated through
the Marshfield Medical Center Credit Union. Contributions to the fund may be sent to the Brittany Zimmermann Memorial Fund, Marshfield Medical
Center Credit Union, P.O. Box 279, Marshfield, WI 54449.
Jordan Gonnering (22) – fiancée
Brittany Sue Zimmermann (21) – UW-Madison junior from Marshfield, WI
The Department of Justice distributed playing cards
in 2011 to inmates in to state prisons and
county jails in the hope that an inmate with knowledge of a case would come forward.
Each card featured a photo of a missing person or homicide victim and information about their case.
Two versions of the cards: one of Milwaukee cases and one with cases from other parts of the state.
Most of the cards featured a picture of the victim, only a few did not.