Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Caravan To Catch A Killer

by Susan Murphy Milano

With a donated van, Dr. Maggie Zingman prepared for her first road trip in 2007. Since then she has driven to 33 states and 42 cities in hopes of catching a killer. Now, eighteen thousands miles, 5 caravan trips, and 2,000 ruled out DNA possible suspects later, she continues visiting homicide units, college campuses, and sporting events like the PGA tour, passing out the killer's information in hopes someone may provide a tip or a lead.

Her daughter, Brittany Phillips, was found raped and suffocated inside her Tulsa apartment in 2004. Britty, as she's called, was buried on her 19th birthday.

In Florida last week after an exhaustive day of meeting with police and passing out information on the beach we spoke by phone. " I searched high and low, looking for tips, clues, anything that would lead to the capture of my daughter's killer. The only thing that did not make me go crazy after my daughters murder was police detectives said she died instantly."

This remarkable woman is a psychologist at the Mabel Basset Correctional Center in Tulsa, working in the area of trauma and sexual assault. She could never imagine her personal experiences and work with other victims would run parallel with the death of her daughter. The stories she hears on a daily basis from the women she works with is now a harsh reality for her.

When she has saved up enough vacation days at work, using her own money she carefully plans the road trips driving in towns across America in her SUV, a moving billboard that literally tells the tragic details of a young woman's life abruptly taken away.

Dr. Zingman understands the new technologies that allow tiny bits of DNA found at crime scenes to be scooped up and tested. While on the road she spreads the word of new federal and state laws requiring law enforcement to collect DNA samples from people convicted of-- or simply arrested for -- nonviolent crimes, including shoplifting. She is advocating for every State to do a DNA test upon arrest.

Police have Brittany Phillip's murderer's DNA and because of this "Teflon mom" thousands of men have been tested, but no killer has been found, leaving Brittany's mother motivated to continue to ride in search of the man who brutally took her child's life. Some would argue that Maggie is looking for a needle in a haystack and the killer may be never be found. "Once chance in a million, is better than no chance at all."

Dr. Maggie Zingman plans to do another road trip in about six months. She will not stop until Brittany's killer is found.


FleaStiff said...

So many issues in this case!

The most likely area to find the culprit would be Tulsa or McAllister but ofcourse I have some doubts about that year away in Florida and the reason for returning. What young girl leaves a full ride scholarship because she misses her family and friends?

The failure to disclose violent crimes in apartment complexes or the dismissal of such crimes as "a boyfriend thing" is common. Often rental managers simply want the apartment rented and know tenants will be scared away by the truth.

As to dna collection and processing, some of the delay is related to funding but much is due to "turf considerations".

Delilah said...

Not only has Dr. Zingman ruled out over 2000 suspects of her daughter's brutal murder, but I wonder how many of those suspects were booked for other crimes and taken off the streets.

Maggie Zingman is a woman who is forced to think outside the box and use this innovative method to spread the word and get publicity for her daughters murder. Amazing is the word I think of!

A Voice of Sanity said...

"While on the road she spreads the word of new federal and state laws requiring law enforcement to collect DNA samples from people convicted of -- or simply arrested for -- nonviolent crimes, including shoplifting."

Yet another example of the shredding of the constitution. Arrest is not conviction and does not justify creating a database of the whole population.

Anonymous said...

An amazing Mother. I am so sorry for her loss. I am so glad she is helping so many others.

Susan you are always helping Mother's and daughter's.

Thank God for you too!