I don't think I'm blowing a scoop by confirming that Greta Van Susteren, host of Fox News' On the Record, was in town last week investigating the murders of Kelly Nolan, Joel Marino and Brittany Zimmermann.
Prompted by Isthmus' coverage of the cases, Van Susteren returned to her college stomping ground to and walked us through what they know about their son's final moments. They showed us where Joel collapsed outside, yards from St. Mary's Hospital, with gravel clutched in his fists.
Lou Marino broke down crying as he told us about hearing the 911 call placed by a person who found Joel collapsed in the alleyway; Debbie broke down as she talked about she felt Joel's presence in the house.
It was emotionally draining for us all.
After the Marino family interview, Van Susteren and I walked the short distance from Joel Marino's beautiful house on West Shore Drive, with a gorgeous view of Monona Bay and the Madison skyline, to the Doty Street apartment of Brittany Zimmermann.
Zimmermann was murdered, in a strikingly similar manner, about two months after Marino. Kelly Nolan, who was killed last summer after a night of drinking near State Street, lived just three blocks north, on West Mifflin Street.
Van Susteren asked if the same person or persons could be responsible for all killings. At the time, police were refusing to comment on rumors, running rampant among reporters, that DNA had linked the Marino and Zimmermann murders. (The following day, last Friday, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray said police did not believe the Marino and Zimmermann killings were connected, but could not rule it out.)
As we walked on a beautiful spring day through Brittingham Park, Van Susteren and I talked about the city's changing population. She asked me about the secrecy of Madison police, and whether those of us who live downtown feel unsafe. She says friends of hers who send their kids to UW-Madison are worried. I told her many of us who live here are worried too, and hope each day for a break in the cases.
Van Susteren also interviewed the retired Madison firefighter who told Isthmus he believes police missed a chance to catch Joel Marino's killer after he spotted the suspect in the neighborhood on March 21. The man was among the people who saw the suspect on Jan. 28, the day Marino was killed.
The firefighter's story matched exactly what he told Isthmus two weeks ago. The man wanted his face disguised because he is worried about his safety.
This week, in an unusual public statement chastising the Marino family for making their complaints public, the Madison Police Department said news reports of the firefighter's account were "inaccurate," although the statement failed to say how.
As for Van Susteren, she asked everyone she encountered about their Madison lineage, often dropping names of old West High grads and UW-Madison undergrads who she ran with during her stint in college in the 1970s, when she earned a degree here in economics.
She's clearly a local girl who still loves Madison. At Zimmermann's house, she couldn't get over how serene the neighborhood was. "This looks just like a house I lived in in college!" she said.
Me too, I told her.
In-between interviews, Van Susteren Isthmus story by Cliff Miller, retrieved from a bound volume, has the quote.
If you want to know, Greta won the case.
The special on the Madison murders is scheduled to air on Fox News channel, Friday, May 23, at 9 p.m. Central Time.