Mother of slain teenager drives across country for help

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SAN DIEGO — A mother on a cross-country mission to catch her daughter’s killer drove to San Diego pleading for help more than a decade later.

“I cry every day. We buried her on her 19th birthday,” said Maggie Zingman, who lost her 18-year-old daughter Brittany Phillips in 2004.

In a car wrapped in Brittany’s memory, Zingman takes a month off of work every year to crisscross the country, talking to anyone who will listen. She’s logged nearly 20,000 miles and has seen 46 states.

“It’s hard for me to still believe sometimes that she’s murdered, but after almost 13 years the fact that we still haven’t found her killer, that’s overwhelming,” she said.

Detectives in Tulsa, Oklahoma said someone broke into Brittany’s off-campus apartment where he raped and strangled her. They know her doors were locked and that she fought back for some time. The suspect left a trail of DNA. Detectives said they have followed every single lead.

“When they told me that, I was still devastated, but I thought at least we’ll be able to find her murderer,” she added. “Now here we are, almost 13 years later. They’ve run that DNA against more than a million suspects in the national database …without a hit.”

Zingman hit the road a few years ago to bring awareness to the importance of taking a suspect’s DNA during their arrest, hoping to widen the pool and crack the case. She talks openly about her loss to strangers and hopes someone somewhere will be able to help.

Both grief and hope are forms of love this mother knows all too well.

“It breaks my heart every day that I lost her. If I can save someone else by making them aware of the laws and what they can do, then it makes that hole just a little bit smaller,” she said.

Zingman has set up a website with more details of her daughter’s story, as well as aFacebook page about Brittany.


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