A Rock County woman says she's on a mission to solve murders.
Author Terri Garcia already documented dozens of the area's unsolved cases, but now she's focusing on Dane County cases in a new book.
"I wanted to be a police officer when I was growing up," Garcia said, who instead was a tax adviser, certified nursing assistant and two years ago, she added author to her resume.
"I had a lot of reservation whether I should or whether I shouldn't and then one day something just said, you need to do this now," said Garcia.
Her book "Rock County's Unsolved Murders" has sold 800 copies since it was released nearly two years ago. It details 27 of the county's cases, but despite the exposure, support of victim families and the Crime Stoppers program, none of the cases have been solved. But that's not stopping Garcia.
"Sometimes people don't want to come to police to tell tips, so they've come to me," she said.
She's since been gathering information on two dozen other cold cases from Dane County.
"I've started working on Kelly Nolan's case," said Garcia. Nolan was killed in 2007 after a night out with friends. Searchers found the UW-Whitewater student's body 16 days later. A year later, Brittany Zimmerman was stabbed in her Madison apartment. Both cases are in Garcia's new book, along with Fitchburg's Amos Mortier, another high-profile murder.
"There are so many different things out there that they said could have happened to him, too," said Garcia, whose quest for closure hits close to home.
"I'm like, oh God, don't tell me it was David Landwehr, you know," she said. Landwehr and Garcia had been best childhood friends. He was murdered in 1988 over a $2 phone bill.
For 19 years his case went cold, until police in Washington state tied Ezequiel Lopez-Zavala to the crime, after he was arrested for a broken tail light. The two had been neighbors and Lopez-Zavala stabbed Landwehr in the neck. Lopez-Zavala was sentenced for the crime in 2009 and is serving a 15-year sentence in a state prison.
"Some justice is better than nothing at this point for some of them," said Garcia.
Garcia may not be an officer of the law, but she's still helping others, one page at a time.
"I've had people call me and thank me for putting their (family) members in there," she said.
Garcia's second book is due out in two months.
It will be available at Book World in Janesville, Walgreens stores and on Amazon.
If you're interested in contacting Garcia with information, you can reach her at email@example.com or on Facebook.
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