Tulsa Cold Cases: Brittany Phillips

Maggie Zingman can't forget October 1, 2004.

"I mean it was almost out of a movie," she said. "It's so bizarre, but it was pouring down rain. Rain was coming in my door."

Zingman said a young sheriff's deputy told her that her daughter, Brittany Phillips had been murdered and she had to contact a Tulsa Police detective.

"I just remember almost like the room caving in on me," Zingman said.

Brittany Phillips' murder is one of about 200 cold cases being investigated by the Tulsa Police Department.

Zingman lives in Chandler. Her daughter had recently moved back from school in Florida to attend classes closer to home. Brittany was living at an East Tulsa apartment complex near Union where she had graduated high school. Zingman said Brittany was a kind, studious girl who stayed out of trouble.

A friend had found Brittany dead in her apartment. Police said she had been raped and suffocated. Investigators were able to extract some DNA from the scene, but after almost nine years, have not found Brittany's killer.

With the recent investigation that led OSBI to three female bodies near Jennings after 21 years of searching, Zingman admits that along with compassion, she feels jealousy.

"You begin to go, why can't ours be solved?" Zingman said.

That is why Zingman covered her car with photos of Brittany and tip line phone numbers. She has traveled around the country some 67,000 miles. She calls it her "Caravan to Catch a Killer."

She also runs a website dedicated to finding Brittany's killer. She said sometimes her efforts are economically, physically, and emotionally draining, but she is doing this for Brittany and others.

Zingman has also become an advocate for DNA at arrest to make it easier to solve crimes. Currently 26 states have it, but Oklahoma does not. A state senate committee gave the legislation the go-ahead several months ago, but it has not moved since. Many believe it is an invasion of privacy. However, Zingman and some law enforcement representatives said it is simply an investigative tool.

The Tulsa Police Department has one detective assigned to cold cases. Detective Eddie Majors said many other cities this size have multiple detectives assigned to this department. He said Tulsa has excellent homicide detectives, which keeps his workload from getting unbearable.

"It's going to take the community to solve these," Majors said.

He said tips are vital to solving cold cases and that no tip is too small.

"It may be a very minor thing, but it may play a major role," Majors said.

Majors said it is sometimes incarcerated people who withhold tips until they can try to bargain their knowledge for some other purpose.

However, tips continue to arrive even for Brittany's case nearly nine years following her death. A man in Texas agreed to a DNA test in April. Majors was waiting for those test results.

Anyone with information regarding Brittany's murder or others is encouraged to call Crimestoppers at 596-COPS.