“Murder victim’s fiance left with lease” – story on Consumerist

15 04 2008

The Consumerist picked up a recent Madison story about the Zimmerman death.

It was reported in a lot of news outlets that Brittany Zimmerman’s fiancé, Jordan Gonnering, was going to be forced by his property management company to keep the apartment that he and his fiancée shared. That part of the story unraveled Friday, but by Monday afternoon, Wisconsin Management Company had cleared the whole bit up, maybe after doing the wrong thing, and have put out a press release (pdf).

My comment @ Consumerist:

The back story here makes me believe [Jordan] is in the right. I’m a UW student, and Zimmerman was murdered almost two weeks ago now. He would have moved out right away for CSI and such. But I suspect he would NEVER go back there. I wouldn’t. The right thing for the property management company to do is say, “We’re really sorry. You can have out of your lease now and rent one of our empty apartments. Your lease for next year is off, too.”

As a student and BS graduate, I can attest that there are a lot of crooked “property management” companies downtown who will fleece people by charging high rents and keeping security deposits. This company actually probably owns fewer than the average downtown properties relative to others. We only recently (and finally) had a Student Tenant group start up, and they were the ones threatening what would have been the first renter’s boycott in 30 years (according to our district’s Alderman). What we need is for the university to offer legal help to tenants with real problems. I believe Minnesota does so, especially after one really bad house fire.

We have one house fire death, several student rapes/assaults and two very recent, possibly related stabbing deaths in the last two years. I think we not only deserve better housing but a better crime task force… but that’s a WHOLE different story.

Zimmerman was found on April 2 stabbed to death in her apartment, and the case has been typical, as of late. It’s to the point where I’m surprised when the police find a perpetrator of a major crime, as happened with an abduction/rape on campus last year.

There’s a lot to this case that we don’t know so far, but what is known has caused enough of a ruckus. The police suspect someone described as looking “homeless”, and a lot of homeless folks in Madison are up-in-arms over the increased scrutiny and profiling that has occurred as a result. I think that, to some degree, it had to happen, since the person is likely on the move. Still, such things often lead to police overstepping their boundaries.

A man named Joel Marino was found nearly dead in an alley behind his house earlier in the winter less than a mile away. Because the investigations are in two districts, there are two separate investigations. According to some recent reports, the police are sharing tips with each other because the cases are starting to overlap. Still, there’s no official word yet as to whether they actually believe the murders are linked.

Another murder happened in nearby Fitchburg over the summer. The woman, Kelly Nolan, was young and was last seen downtown. That murder went entirely unsolved, and I’m starting to be sickened by the number of high profile crimes that police can’t seem to figure out.

Now, I understand that we don’t live in Murderapolis (God bless Minnesota), Baltimore, D.C. or Milwaukee. The number (and rate per capita) of murders, rapes, etc., is a very positive one in light of what it could be, but these crimes are happening in campus neighborhoods where we should feel reasonably safe. I don’t expect  or care for the “safety” of the suburbs, but come one, let’s keep our own safe.

I’m riled now, but I’ll have to rant more later. I need to sleep.

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