An arrest has been made nearly 12 years after Brittany Zimmerman was killed in broad daylight in her off-campus apartment in Madison, Wisconsin
Brittany Zimmerman
Credit: Madison Police Department

On April 2, 2008, just after noon, University of Wisconsin-Madison student Brittany Zimmerman was working on her computer in the off-campus apartment she shared with her fiancé when an intruder broke in.

The 21-year-old woman from Marshfield, Wisconsin, called 911 for help — but no one showed up for almost an hour.

In the 48 minutes it took Madison police to get to the apartment, Zimmerman could be heard on the 911 tape screaming and gasping as she fought for her life as her assailant stabbed her multiple times in the chest and beat and strangled her, court records and warrants show, CNN reports.

Her fiancé, Jordan Gonnering, arrived home before police arrived and found Zimmerman’s bloodied, lifeless body in the bedroom.

She was stabbed so viciously in the heart that he thought she had been shot.

The dispatcher at the Dane County 911 call center didn’t send police to the apartment until 48 minutes after Zimmerman called because the dispatcher didn’t hear any signs of struggle, an internal investigation revealed, CNN and the Marshfield News Herald report.

For nearly 12 years, police hunted for Zimmerman’s killer.

On Friday, police arrested a 53-year-old drifter, David Kahl, and charged him with first-degree intentional homicide, the Marshfield News Herald reports.

David Kahl
David Kahl
| Credit: AP/Shutterstock

“This was a truly senseless crime, taking the life of a young woman with a bright future,” Acting Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl said, local station WKOW reports.

Witnesses told detectives they saw Kahl in the vicinity of Zimmerman’s apartment on West Doty St. on the day she was killed, according to a criminal complaint Dane County prosecutors filed on Friday, the Marshfield News Herald reports.

In an alleged scam, Kahl told residents he needed $40 to get a flat tire fixed, the complaint says.

Later, Kahl allegedly told police he needed money for food, but then said he used the money to buy crack cocaine and was high that day, according to the complaint.

At one point, Kahl also allegedly entered an unlocked home on Washington Avenue, exiting when the homeowner told him to leave, the complaint says, the Marshfield News Herald reports.

After the murder, authorities found the lock on Zimmerman’s door broken, the complaint says, WKOW reports.

Kahl allegedly told a prison inmate years earlier that he had broken into Zimmerman’s apartment and choked her, court records show, WKOW reports.

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Authorities also found a “conclusive match” between Kahl’s DNA and DNA found on Zimmerman’s jeans, police said last month.

In 2011, his DNA was linked to DNA found under Zimmerman’s nails and in 2014, to DNA on the sleeve of her shirt, the complaint says.

Kahl has said he had nothing to do with Zimmerman’s death.

“I did not murder that girl,” Kahl said in a 2006 interview with 27 News.

He said in the interview that DNA found on Zimmerman came from a hug or handshake after she gave him money.

In the interview, he said he gave police the names of other panhandlers he claims killed Zimmerman.

Kahl is currently being held in the Oshkosh Correctional Institution, where he’s serving a sentence for repeatedly driving while intoxicated.

He hasn’t entered a plea for the homicide charge. It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

The Dane County prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE request for comment.