Spring 1994 – Madison, WI
On April 7, 1994 Christopher Clemons found Sarah Gonstead’s body in the woods off west Mineral Point Road near Garfoot Road. Sarah left her mothers house to go barhopping 3˝ weeks prior, and no one had seen her since. A single gunshot to the back of the head was the cause of death.
Her companion the night of March 14 was Penny Brummer. Brummer had recently broken up with her girlfriend, Glenda Johnson, who was a close friend of Gonstead’s since second grade.
Brummer’s Story of What Happened That Night:
The two stopped at
Wonder's Pub, the
Regent Street Retreat, and
Paul's Speedway Bar & Grill while also drinking as they drove. The last stop of the evening, at about 11 p.m., was
Club 3054, where there were enough cars in the lot that they had to park in the back. Gonstead wasn't feeling well, so she decided to walk to Johnson's Hoard street duplex, half a block away. Neither went into Club 3054. Brummer estimated she had 12 to 15 drinks that evening; Gonstead eight, maybe nine. The next morning Brummer called Johnson at home to ask whether Gonstead had made it to her apartment.
People began looking for Gonstead, and holes started to develop in Brummer’s story. Brummer left out of her story that the two had been at Jake's Bar & Grill that night. Jakes is in Pine Bluff near where Gonstead's body was found. When confronted with this information she said she must have “blacked out”. Club 3054 was closed that night so there wouldn’t have been cars in the lot. Phone records show there was no call made to Johnson the next day. Brummer had access to her late fathers .22 handgun that was now missing. Also, even though Brummer knew people were looking for Gonstead, she didn't volunteer to talk to police for 4 days after she disappeared.
Brummer showered and washed cloths when she returned home that night, an odd time to be doing laundry. The next day she had her car washed. Within days Brummer restyled her hair and submitted to be re-enlisted in the Air Force.
That same evening Gonstead disappeared, David Zoromski was driving on Mineral Point Road and saw a red SUV or pickup truck parked on the shoulder. He slowed down and saw what he took to be a slightly built young man standing in front of the open right passenger door. At his feet lay a bright pink object roughly the size of a duffel bag. Gonstead was wearing a pink and purple coat when found.
Brummer was arrested and charged with murder. Prosecutors theorized Brummer killed Gonstead because she felt Gonstead had influenced her breakup with Johnson. Brummer was convicted of first degree murder, with a parole eligibility date of April 13, 2044.
Sarah Gonstead (21)
Penny Brummer (25)
truthinjustice Penny Brummer
Mar 11, 2012 – Madison, WI – DNA tests approved in Gonstead murder case
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne approved a new round of DNA testing in a 1994 murder case the Wisconsin Innocence Project says could prove Penny Brummer’s innocence.
The project seeks to test victim Sarah Gonstead’s clothes, swabs from her body, fingernail scrapings, a tissue found near the body and a Taco Bell cup.
Gonstead was found April 9, 1994, near Mineral Point Road west of Pine Bluff three weeks after she disappeared. She was last seen the night of March 14, 1994, when she went bar-hopping with Brummer. Brummer testified she dropped Gonstead off around 11 p.m. behind Club 3054 and last saw her standing near a group of people in a nearby Taco Bell parking lot.
According to the motion filed in Dane County Circuit Court, the clothes and underwear worn by Gonstead contain never-before-tested blood stains that do not appear to have come from the .22-caliber bullet wound to the head that killed her.
Suspicion grew when a .22-caliber revolver that belonged to Brummer’s father couldn’t be found during a search of the family home, and after Brummer and Gonstead were identified as having been at a bar that night near where the young woman’s body was found. Brummer earlier denied the two had been at the bar but later conceded to police she may have “blacked out” from a night of heavy drinking.
At trial a witness who said he saw a man two nights after Gonstead disappeared with a bright pink object on the side of Mineral Point Road close to where Gonstead’s body — clad in a purple and pink jacket — was later found.
Taco Bell cup — found about 100 yards from the scene but possibly blown by the wind