Killer Loose Near University of Wisconsin

A Wisconsin college student found dead in her Madison apartment has sparked fears that a killer may be loose near the sprawling university campus.

"At this writing no suspects have been identified and detectives have ruled out that this may have been a random act," according to the Madison Police Department incident report.

Brittany Sue Zimmermann, 21, was found dead in her apartment near the University of Wisconsin-Madison shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday by police called to check on the student's welfare. A preliminary examination by the Dane County coroner has ruled her death a homicide. The coroner did not say how the woman was killed, but an autopsy was scheduled for today.

Joel DeSpain, a spokesman for the Madison Police Department, told ABC News that authorities are following up on a "lot of leads" and that items have been sent from the crime scene to the state laboratory for forensics testing.


DeSpain declined to say who made the original 911 call and would not address a report that Zimmermann had been stabbed. "There's nothing we can put out there," DeSpain said.

Zimmermann's slaying is the first involving a University of Wisconsin-Madison student since 1996, but Madison police are investigating two other recent homicides that remain unsolved and could be related.

Her death is also the latest in a series of killings on or near college campuses that have left school officials around the country scrambling to find ways to tighten security.

A woman who answered the phone at Zimmermann's parents' house in Marshfield, Wis., declined to comment on the homicide investigation to ABC News.

In an interview with The Capital Times, Kevin Zimmermann, the student's father, described his daughter as a medical microbiology and immunology major with hopes of attending medical school.

His daughter, who was in her junior year, had already accumulated enough credits to graduate in the fall, Zimmermann said. She also was recently engaged to boyfriend Jordan Gonnering and the couple was planning to marry next year in Hawaii.

"As a young girl she was just so kind to everybody. She never had a bad thing to say about anybody," Zimmermann said. "She was the brightest girl and the most considerate person. She was one who was always willing to help anybody."

Brittany Sue Zimmermann lived with her fiance in the downstairs apartment of the house where her body was discovered, according to family members. Kim Heeg, an aunt, told the Wisconsin State Journal that Gonnering had called police after finding his fiance's body.

Authorities announced late Thursday that a man identified as Zimmermann's boyfriend was not a suspect in the case. "He has been -- and continues to be -- very helpful in providing information to the detective team," the report stated.

The university released a statement Wednesday night about the student's death, urging students to grieve together and raise the level of alertness on the Madison campus and throughout the college town.

"From everything I have learned about her today, she was an engaged and active student and a dedicated student employee," Lori Berquam, dean of students, said in a statement.

"An event like this is extremely unsettling," she said. "This will be a difficult time, but I can tell you that we will come together in support of each other and continue working to make our campus as safe as possible."

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