BOSTON (CBS) – “Brittany was a mix of beauty and brains,” said Maggie Zingman.
The last time Zingman talked to her daughter, Brittany Phillips, was on Sept. 27, 2004.
“Then on Thursday night, which was September 30, I called her and left that typical mom message ‘Brittany please call me, I know you’re OK, but please call me,’” she said.
That night, she realized Brittany wasn’t OK when a sheriff knocked on her door.
“When I opened it, he quickly said ‘Are you Maggie Zingman?’ and I said ‘Yes’ and he said ‘You need to call Tulsa police, your daughter’s been murdered,’ and he handed me a little white piece of paper and left,” she remembered.
By the time she got to Brittany’s apartment, she was gone.
Only a detective was there and told Zingman her daughter had been raped and suffocated but they had DNA from Brittany’s killer.
“When I heard DNA, I thought it will be solved. I thought like everyone else, it’s like CSI … I’m here heading to the 14th anniversary and it still isn’t solved,” Zingman explained.
Within weeks every lead fell flat and detectives believed Brittany’s killer left the state.
That’s when Zingman started the “Caravan to Catch a Killer.”
“Really the car alone brings up people and sometimes I feel bad because everybody has a child or a grandchild or a sister, and often people hug me and cry and feel bad but I want them to understand this can happen to anyone,” Zingman said.
Zingman, a Tulsa, Oklahoma resident, has gone through three vehicles, driving them all more than 250,000 miles across the country.
All to educate people and push for DNA testing at the time of arrest, not only conviction, to become law in every state.
Right now, the state of Massachusetts does not test DNA at the time of arrest.
“They are out here hurting our loved ones for 10, 20 years and their DNA is not in the system,” she said.
With the caravan, there is now a DNA-based sketch of Brittany’s killer showing what he looks like.
“The loss never goes away. I cry almost every day. I describe it as having this hole in my heart that’s never going to fill, but I’ve also found these caravans have helped me endure it,” she said.
Zingman will drive as many caravans as she needs to into the ground until her daughter’s killer is found.
“I’ve learned I have to walk towards it, and have to live in spite or because of it, because I actually refuse to let her killer take my life too,” she said.