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JAKE NAUGHTON/Herald photo

As the homicide investigation of Brittany Zimmermann
continues, Madison police called the case a “game of DNA” at a
Bassett Neighborhood Committee meeting Monday.

With more than 20 officers working the case, police returned
Monday from a one-day break since the April 2 murder of the 21-year-old
University of Wisconsin junior.

According to Lt. Joe Balles, a sufficient amount of evidence
has been sent to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, and police are awaiting results
that could possibly lead to a break in the case.

“This lab is not like when you watch ‘CSI.’ It is not
that easy. It is very complex, it is comprehensive, and it takes a long
time,” Balles said. “I want them to take their time. We do not need
to rush to any conclusions.”

The reason for the long process stems from the necessity of
two crime analysts to review and process the DNA.

“The results have to be duplicated in order for them to
report back to us that, yes, this DNA does whatever, matches whatever we might
have on our end,” Balles said.

Although Balles did not comment on any advances in the
investigation, he did point out the various strategies detectives have employed
to increase safety in the downtown area. Preventive measures include
encouraging property owners to post more visible signage to thwart trespassing
and adding additional patrols to the Bassett and State Street areas and the
west side of Capitol Square.

Balles said Madison police officers will be traveling
door-to-door in the Doty and Wilson Street areas in the near future to administer
surveys to tenants. The questionnaire will inquire about knowledge relevant to
the investigation to uncover any information that citizens may not have come
forward with.

Although safety remains a large concern, City Council
President Mike Verveer, District 4, said the forced entry into Zimmermann’s
apartment at 517 W. Doty St. was extremely uncommon for the area.

“That sort of forced entry is quite rare in our
community, and it was an anomaly,” Verveer said. While the focus on the
recent Zimmermann case has been prevalent, Balles said the homicide of Joel
Marino, a 31-year-old found stabbed to death in an alley near his 714 W. Shore
Drive home Jan. 28, must also be considered as a possible connection.

“While we have no direct evidence to link the two together,
certainly the … person of a reasonable mind has to question such events like
that happening in such close proximity and time occurrence to one
another,” Balles said.

Regarding the transient population in the downtown area and
its relation to the investigation, Balles said it is necessary to take a look
at all citizens who may have been present in the area the day of Zimmermann’s
homicide.

“We know there were a number of people in that
neighborhood looking for money, so we want to talk to them,” said Joel
DeSpain, MPD public information officer. “They might have seen things;
they may be good witnesses for us.”

?

Hyatt hotel coming, Mifflin planning begins

Aside from investigation updates, members of the Bassett
Neighborhood Committee addressed future construction plans for new apartments
and a hotel.

The Hyatt hotel, to be located at 333 W. Washington Ave., is
one step away from breaking ground, according to Jonathan Cooper, a committee
member.

“Barring a few final design issues that are still
coming back to the Urban Design Commission in two weeks, the hotel is a
go,” Cooper said. “They will be starting construction this spring. It
has been a long time winding through the process, and I am glad to see it
approved.”

Residents of the Bassett neighborhood also voiced concerns
for the proposal of a four-story building with 40 apartments that would be
built on the southwest corner of Bassett and Wilson Streets.

According to Cooper, the primary concern is the considerable
size of the building.

Constructing new apartments would bring more residents to
the area, increasing traffic, Cooper added. The balcony design also spurred
discussion because it could possibly narrow the space between the neighboring
apartment complexes.

“The mass and the height are problematic,” Cooper
said. “The building fills up the site, and we need to try to work through
that.”

With the Mifflin Street block party drawing closer, Balles
said he is optimistic this year’s party, given a de facto date of May 3, will be
as successful as last year’s party.

“We maintained alcohol off the street all day long, and
I am really hoping we can duplicate what we did last year,” Balles said.
“Obviously right now safety is on everyone’s mind, and I hope we have a
good event and it goes off without a hitch.”