Mother Uses Personal Tragedy to Help Others

Maggie Zingman isn't shy about discussing her daughter's unsolved murder. On a recent morning, in a parking lot near Southern Methodist University in Dallas,  she handed a woman a flier.

"This was my daughter, " Zingman told the woman. "She was murdered in Tulsa about 4 years ago."

Brittany Phillips was a college student when she was murdered in her Tulsa apartment in 2004. After Brittany missed class, a friend went to her apartment to check on her, and found her dead. investigators say she had been raped and died from strangulation.

"I've been traveling across country, talking about my daughter's murder, especially coming out to the college campuses," said Zingman, who is a psychologist at a women's prison.

Zingman launched what she calls "Caravan to Catch a Killer." She travels cross-country in her small SUV, which is wrapped with photos of Brittany, and a website to go to for more information. On this most recent trip, she traveled to cities in New Mexico, Arizona Colorado and Texas.

"I don't have a choice," Zingman said. "You either go crazy, or do something in honor, and I can't not do anything."

She spends three to six weeks on the road during each trip. So far, she's logged 15,000 miles and visited 33 states.

"I'm trying to cover all the U.S.," she said. "I haven't covered it yet, but I'm trying to."

She says she will go back to work for three or four months, then hit the road again. Her goal is to educate people on DNA evidence issues and rape laws. Even though there is DNA evidence in Brittany's case, the killer has not been found.

"I began to say, 'Why can't we match this nationally? Why can't we figure out who this DNA is and match it?' And that's when I learned about the backlogs, and there's no real-time network on how to communicate about different murders," Zingman said.  

"Without change, these types of murders are going to continue to happen," she added. "We can never stop them -- I'm not unrealistic -- but we have to do something to decrease the number of violent offenders that are out there."

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