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Who Killed Sarah?

Recounting all of the reasons to doubt Penny's guilt would take, well, a book, but here are a few:

Police clearly had "tunnel vision" in building a case against Penny, another common feature in wrongful convictions. Witness David Zoromski, who reported seeing a suspicious man standing by the open passenger door of a parked pickup truck exactly where Sarah's body was later found, was told by a Dane County Sheriff's Deputy, "What you saw is all very interesting, but we have a suspect and it doesn't fit." The man seen by Mr. Zoromski matched the description of the person Penny said she saw Sarah talking to near the Taco Bell at East Washington Avenue and North Oak Street in Madison, after she dropped her off that night.  Police identified him and knew he was a convicted felon with a long history of violence toward women -- but they never followed up on this lead.

The blood alcohol level in Sarah's liver suggests a time of death several hours after Penny was back at her Spring Green home, watching TV.

Sarah's murder -- a bullet to the back of the head -- is consistent with a biker execution, and the extensive impact damage to the bullet may indicate it was a .22 magnum, the sort bikers prefer. Significantly, this type of ammo cannot be fired from the gun, never found, that the prosecution held to be the murder weapon. When a post-conviction effort was made to submit the fired bullet for testing by a Kentucky State Police firearms expert, the lead prosecutor in Penny's case, Dane County Deputy District Attorney Judy Schwaemle, refused to allow it, saying, "Over my dead body."

The prosecution got a major boost from Madison resident James Foseid, who emerged mid-trial claiming he heard Penny at a bar vowing to kill her lover's friend, whom she called "a fat, ugly bitch."

When Mr. Foseid was asked about this several years later, he insisted he could not possibly have been mistaken, since the woman making death threats had said her name was Penny -- a highly pertinent detail he never mentioned at trial.
James Foseid
James Foseid

The DA's office used this make-it-up-as-he-goes witness to help put Penny behind bars for the rest of her life.

Twenty-five years later, Penny's advocates received copies of reports from the Vernon County Sheriff's Dept. and the U.S. Secret Service detailing the involvement of Penny's trial attorney, Jack Priester, and his investigator, Mike O'Neill, with local outlaw bikers.  Mr. O'Neill and Mjr. Priester received cocaine from the bikers; Mr. O'Neill got an 8-ball (3.5 grams) of cocaine per week as a "retainer."  To earn his retainer, Mr. O'Neill hired people to commit perjury to help bikers who had been charged with crimes.  Mr. O'Neill also participated in setting up people on criminal charges by planting evidence, then reporting it to police anonymously.

Mike O'Neill and Jack Priester died years ago, so they can't tell us if Mr. Foseid was paid to provide false testimony that would point away from outlaw bikers and implicate Penny.  But there is little doubt that if there is a connection between Mr. Foseid and Mr. O'Neill, there are people still living who know about it. 

If you know about a connection between Mr. Foseid and Mr. O'Neill, email whokilledsarah@gmail.com and let us know.  There could be $10,000.00 in it for you.

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Click the title to read Phil Brinkman's 2005 series Who killed Sarah? The trial of Penny Brummer in the Wisconsin State Journal.

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Please Help!
Please help pay for reinvestigation and defense with your generous donation.

Send a check or money order to:

Penny Brummer Defense Fund
The People's Community Bank
P. O. Box 369
Spring Green, WI  53588

Checks should be made payable to "Penny Brummer Defense Fund".  Thank you!
This website gives an overview.  For details on how this happened, who is served by keeping John in prison, and what can be done to right this wrong, read Who Killed Sarah, FREE to download in pdf format.  Click the cover and save to your device.  Read in Adobe Acrobat, most browsers.

Who Killed Sarah
MIP Publications

$10,000.00 reward for information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the death of Sarah Gonstead.  Send tips to whokilledsarah@gmail.com

Take Action!
1) Share this story with everyone you know using all of your social networks. Point people to this website. 

2) If you know anything, email whokilledsarah@gmail.com. Do the right thing, and be rewarded for it.

3) Ask DA Ismael Ozanne to reopen the investigation (Dane Co. DA's Office, 215 S Hamilton St., Ste 3000, Madison, WI 53703-3211)

4) Say a prayer.


















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