Recently unsealed search warrants revealed the call made from the cell phone of Brittany Zimmermann on the day she was killed started with a woman screaming and sounds of a struggle for a short period of time.
However, a statement released by the Dane County Public Safety Communication Center, maintains that the call indicated no emergency.
“An investigation done in May by the 911 Center found no evidence the dispatcher who took a call from Ms. Zimmermann’s cell phone heard anything that indicated an emergency was occurring,” the statement said.
Seven search warrants containing details about the homicide investigation had been sealed and resealed since they were issued, in order to protect the investigation
The seals expired last Wednesday and no request to reseal them was made. The Wisconsin State Journal reported on the details on Tuesday after obtaining copies of the documents on Monday.
“The public airing of these formerly sealed documents was not sought by the Madison Police Department, and it would have been preferable — from an investigative standpoint — that they would have remained sealed,” said Madison Police spokesperson Joel DeSpain in a statement released Tuesday.
Around 11:30 a.m. on April 2, Brittany Zimmermann’s fianc? Jordan Gonnering saw her while he was standing on the balcony adjacent to Van Hise hall while talking to her on his cell phone and looking down at her on the ground floor.
According to the search warrant, Zimmermann’s call was received about one hour later at 12:20 p.m. and was disconnected after “the sound of a woman screaming and … background sounds of a struggle for a short period of time.”
The Dane County Communications Center staff called back immediately and a male caller with an accent answered Zimmermann’s cell phone and said he did not place the call.
Approximately 48 minutes elapsed between when Zimmermann called 911 and when police responded at 1:08 p.m. after Gonnering called police.
When police arrived at 1:15 p.m., they found Gonnerning crying, trembling and in shock with Zimmerman lying on the ground.
One warrant revealed Zimmermann died from “complex homicidal violence including multiple stab wounds and strangulation.”
Investigators determined the wounds were caused by “a weapon similar in nature to one possessing a blade length from 2 to 5 inches, blade width of 1.5 to 2 cm, and with a non-prominent hilt.”
There was no weapon left at the scene and none has been discovered.
Investigators also found the perpetrator “made forcible entry to the main front door” which was security locked.
One of the warrants says investigators found DNA on Zimmermann’s body that was not hers and took a total of 23 swabs of DNA, 10 fingerprints and nine partial footwear prints.
In addition, investigators took 18 blood samples, a pair of bloody women’s slippers and computer paper with what appeared to be blood spots.
Apart from details regarding the crime scene and the 911 call Zimmermann made on the day she was killed, the search warrants revealed three suspects who have been investigated and subsequently ruled out.
Thomas Cosgrove, 51, Jeffery D. Ball, 49, and Chauncey Mack, 53, were all suspects in the search warrants.
According to a search warrant, a witness said Mack was talking with another man about the homicide at Concrete Park, located on the 500 block of State Street. Mack told the other man that “he had gone to do a robbery and the ‘girl’ was home,” so he said he “did what he had to do” and elaborated that he “stabbed her, somewhere between 8 and 12 times.”
However, Mack’s DNA profile was inconsistent with the DNA found at the crime scene. The other two men were also ruled out as suspected due to DNA and other factors, according to Schauf.
The 911 Controversy
The audio for the 911 call is still being held by Dane County and Madison Police investigators as a piece of important evidence.
Since the controversial mishap, the 911 Center’s Director Joe Norwick resigned and County Executive Kathleen Falk has included funding in Dane County’s budget for a number of improvements to the current center, including a new priority dispatching software.
“While it is impossible to eliminate all chances for human error, steps have been taken in recent months to minimize opportunities for error,” the 911 Center statement said.
Nancy Mistele, Falk’s opponent in the upcoming election, said the improvements to the 911 Center should have been made after the recommendations were made four years ago.
“The longer we wait to implement 2004 recommendations for the 911 center to avert potential catastrophe, the more we put every Dane County resident at risk of future failures of our emergency response system,” Mistele said. “This is a crisis of leadership.”