Montana Mother, Daughter On Mission To Help Solve Tulsa Cold Case

Friday, August 21st 2020, 5:24 pm
By: Reagan Ledbetter

TULSA, Okla. -

A Montana mother and daughter are on a mission to help solve a Tulsa cold case after finding a bottle with a note in it about the case.

“I could see the words: find my killer,” Charlie Struna said.

Brittany Phillips was 18 when she was raped and murdered in her Tulsa apartment in 2004, and nobody has been arrested. Brittany’s mother travels all over the nation to get publicity for the case and each time, she puts a flier in a bottle and puts it in a river. 

Charlie Struna said she and her daughter were speechless and emotional when they found the bottle.

They were searching for a lost phone in the river near Missoula, Montana and found the bottle.

"We were like oh my gosh this is a sign,” Struna said. “We have to post it on Facebook, maybe we can help her mother.”  

Struna posted about it on Facebook and days later connected with Brittany's mother Maggie Zingman.

"It just reconfirmed to me why I do what I do,” said Zingman. “It is just the out of the blue, kindness of strangers who just touch me and give me courage and energy to go on."

Zingman travels the country sharing her daughter's story and always tosses a bottle with a brochure in it into a river, just on the off chance it will lead to a tip. 

Struna found the bottle exactly one year after Zingman put it there. It was also one year after Zingman found out the DNA they’ve been counting on for years, did not match to the killer.

Zingman said she hasn't been able to travel during the pandemic, but this put a smile on her face.

"Because of and in spite of her murder, I have experienced gifts that very few people are ever going to experience,” said Zingman.

“Being in Montana, you feel like how can I help a cold case in Oklahoma?” Struna said. “You never know. You never know where that person is or who that person knows. Maybe we can find something. What if it were your daughter? Like Maggie I would never stop looking."

To make it even more special, Charlie said Brittany's body was found on Charlie's birthday, 16 years ago.