Madison, a town that usually ranks high on lists of best places to live and low when it comes to crime, was rattled by last Wednesday's news.
Sometime in the late morning or early afternoon, Brittany Zimmermann was murdered. The University of Wisconsin junior died of what police called a "complexity of traumatic injuries."
Ben Heisen, who lives near the murder scene, called it "scary."
Noble Wray, Madison's police chief, said there were reasons to be concerned.
"I would not be telling the truth if I didn't express some cause for concern here," Wray said, "but not alarm."
Part of what's concerning: Police say Zimmermann's murder is similar to another case that's still not solved.
Joel Marino, 31, was found dead outside his home near the U.W. campus in January - also in the middle of the day.
Police say he was stabbed to death, most likely with an "OXO" brand paring knife. They released photos of what they believe to be the killer's stocking cap, his jacket, and a backpack they say he purchased on State Street the same day Marino was killed.
They also released a sketch of the suspect.
After Zimmerman was murdered, Madison's mayor Dave Cieslewicz said "This is a tremendous tragedy for our city."
The police began testing evidence from the Zimmermann crime scene to see if the two cases are linked by a common killer.
Police also are looking into reports of an intruder walking into another home occupied by students the same day Zimmerman was killed.
And against this backdrop, there is a third case still open in Madison.
Last June, another student, Kelly Nolan, disappeared. Her body was found a few days later.
Her killer has not been captured.
But Madison police say the Nolan case does not appear to have connections to the other two.
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