Police arrest man in 2008 death of Brittany Zimmermann

MADISON, Wis. — Police have arrested a man in the 2008 death of Brittany Zimmermann, a college student who was killed in her downtown Madison home.

The Madison Police Department said 53-year-old David A. Kahl was charged Friday with party to first-degree intentional homicide with use of a dangerous weapon.

Acting Chief of Police Victor Wahl announced the arrest in a YouTube video Friday.

“This was truly a senseless crime; taking the life of a young woman with a bright future,” Wahl said. “Nothing we do can change that. But my hope is that what happens today will be a significant step in the process to do justice for Brittany and for her family.”

Zimmermann, a Marshfield native, was found was found strangled and stabbed on April 2, 2008, in her apartment in the 500 block of West Doty Street. She was a University of Wisconsin-Madison student majoring in medical microbiology and immunology when she died. At the time, police said she had just returned home from classes when someone followed her into her apartment.

“Brittany’s killing shook the Madison community and devastated her family, friends and hometown,” Madison police said in a statement Friday announcing the arrest. “It has been almost 12 years since Brittany’s death. During that time, MPD never gave up on her case, tirelessly pursuing justice for Brittany and her family. The dedication and persistence of those tasked with investigating this case – past and present – has never wavered.”

Zimmermann’s parents, Kevin and Jean Zimmermann, said in a statement that they’re relieved and grateful to police for not giving up on the case.

“Having charges filed is just the beginning of justice for Brittany, which is what we have wanted from the start of this horrible tragedy,” Nothing will bring our beautiful daughter back and we continue to feel that pain every day. Therefore, while we have appreciated all the community support throughout the past 12 years,
we are respectfully asking for privacy during this difficult time.”

Kahl has previously been a person of interest in the case, and DNA had reportedly connected him to the crime. In 2017, a man — who was in federal prison with Kahl in West Virginia and had previously told investigators that Kahl broke down and confessed to killing Zimmermann — died in a crash.

Kahl is a registered sex offender connected to a second-degree sexual assault conviction in 1993. Kahl is an inmate at Oshkosh Correctional Institution on an unrelated conviction and could be released as soon as November 2021, according to state Department of Corrections records.