'Just Like Us:' Lesson Brings Tulsa Murder Victim To Life For Union Students
TULSA, Oklahoma - Union High School graduate Brittany Phillips was murdered in 2004, and now a group of Union seniors is studying her case in their criminology class.
The teacher, Mrs. Anderson, wanted to teach DNA to the class but worried it would be boring - so she decided to have them study the real, unsolved murder of Brittany Phillips.
First, they researched the scene, the evidence and possible suspects. On Tuesday, they got to meet Brittany's mother.
These students learned Brittany graduated Union at age 17 and was a chemistry major in Tulsa, living in a South Tulsa apartment when she was raped and strangled.
Studying her case really hit home.
"She walked down the exact same hallway as I walk down every day," said Sydnee Lawerent, senior.
Senior Ethan Cain said, "She was like one of us."
Each student created a book about Brittany's case. They learned even though the killer left behind DNA, thousands of local suspects have been ruled out, and there's never been a hit to any of the one million people in the national DNA database.
They learned the killer's DNA was used to create a composite sketch of the suspect but, still, no solid leads.
Meeting Brittany's mother gave them the personal side of the story, to understand murders are more than a list of facts, but each victim was loved and is missed by grieving family members.
"Walking through it instead of away from it is how you heal. Trying not to feel is what can kill you," said Maggie Zingman, Brittany's mother.
They even got to see Maggie's vehicle that's wrapped with information about Brittany's case. Maggie has driven it all over the country, trying to get attention for Brittany's murder as well as educate people about changes needed to laws and within the justice system.
Not only have these students learned a lesson they will carry with them throughout their lives, now Brittany's case is now featured on the next set of OSBI unsolved murder cards.