Volunteers shift focus to find Reno woman’s killer
February 19, 2008
RENO (AP) — Somber but determined volunteers Monday assembled small bundles of blue ribbons in memory of a young Reno woman while they made up new signs to be spread around the community seeking help in finding the serial rapist who killed her.
Blue was Brianna Denison’s favorite color. Operating from a large fifth-floor office at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, about a dozen volunteers tied ribbons and heaped them on a table – making them available to anyone who stopped by.
At another table, workers made signs that read, “Bring Bri Justice.”
“Today’s a day to get reorganized,” said Claudette Springmeyer, a spokeswoman for the small army of volunteers that has numbered close to 1,500 in the days and weeks since Jan. 20, when Denison, 19, was kidnapped while sleeping on a couch at a friend’s rented home near the University of Nevada, Reno.
A sophomore studying psychology at Santa Barbara City College in California, Denison was home visiting during the winter break when she disappeared.
Her body was found Friday in a field near a light industrial and office area in south Reno.
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On Monday, a makeshift memorial to the slain woman continued to grow as people left ribbons, flowers, blue balloons, stuffed animals, cards, notes and candles at the site.
Police said Denison was strangled and the attack was sexually motivated. Investigators have said DNA evidence links her abduction and killing to two previous sexual attacks near the UNR campus in recent months.
The Washoe County sheriff’s office on Monday also provided six extra detectives and a supervisor to the Reno Police Department to help answer telephone tip lines and follow up on leads.
Police Lt. Robert McDonald said detectives have been speaking with people that callers have said seemed suspicious, and some have given voluntary DNA samples.
“People are truly concerned and want to help,” McDonald said. “They are letting us decide if what they saw or heard is helpful to the investigation.”
In the days after Denison’s disappearance, volunteers remained hopeful the tiny woman with long brown hair and a quick smile would be found alive. Posters reading “Bring Bri Back” with her photo appeared throughout the city and nearby communities.
Those signs are now being taken down and replaced with the new message to bring her justice by finding the killer.
“We want to keep the memory of Bri alive and focus on finding the guy who did this,” Springmeyer said.
She said after Monday, the volunteer center would be open on weekends.
Family members said a public memorial service likely would be held later this week, though a definite date and time has not been set.
Based on the previous sexual assaults, police described the suspect as a white man, 28 to 40 years old, with a long face and square jaw. He is 5-foot-6 to 6-feet tall, of slight or medium build, with brown hair. Authorities said his pubic region was shaved.
His vehicle was described as a high, extended cab pickup or SUV with an exterior step up into the cab. The vehicle also had an interior dome light above the windshield, cloth seats, a narrow floor-mounted console, and a radio with a blue and red LED read-out.
There was also a baby shoe on the floor board, as well as some white paper.
“We won’t rest until he’s brought in,” Denison’s aunt, Lauren Denison, told KRNV-TV.
“As a community, as a family, we are going to help find this guy. We’re not going to stop until he’s brought in.”
In memory of his older sister, Brighton Denison wrote and produced a song, “Not Time to Say Goodbye,” that speaks of their loss.
The song, “Not Time To Say Goodbye,” is posted on the family’s blog, http://www.bringbriback.blogspot.com