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Complaint details brutal attack on UW-Madison student: 'One of the most horrifying things I've seen'

The UW-Milwaukee graduate accused of brutally attacking a UW-Madison student as the semester began was criminally charged on Thursday.
Brandon Thompson
Posted at 2:37 PM, Sep 07, 2023

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MADISON, Wis. — The UW-Milwaukee graduate accused of brutally attacking a UW-Madison student as the semester began was criminally charged on Thursday.

Brandon Thompson, 26, attended his initial appearance in Dane County court on Thursday. He is facing the following felony charges:

  • 1st Deg.Sexual Assault/Great Bodily Harm
  • 1st Degree Reckless Injury
  • Strangulation and Suffocation

According to a criminal complaint released Thursday, on Sept. 3 around 3 a.m. Madison police were dispatched to a home in the 500 block of West Wilson Street. There the officers found a woman naked and severely beaten. The victim is referred to in the complaint as "Jane Doe."
Previous coverage:

Brandon Thompson
Brandon Thompson in court in Madison.

A responding officer described the scene as "one of the most horrifying things I've seen." Officers reported she was covered in blood and her face was purple, bruised and swollen. The victim was not able to communicate with the officers.

The victim was brought to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Her injuries include missing teeth, both eyes swollen shut and her body covered in blood. She had a broken jaw and needed eight stitches to her lip. She also had injuries consistent with penetrating vaginal trauma.

As of Thursday, the victim is on a feeding tube and unable to provide a statement as she shows extreme signs of confusion when awake. Right after the attack, she was put in a medically induced coma.

Police say a man named Brandon originally alerted a witness to call 911 regarding the beaten woman. Authorities later identified the man as the defendant.

Witnesses reported Thompson had blood on his hands.

During his interview with police, Thompson said he was mad and "wanted to hit something." He said he encountered a woman and "saw red" and "didn't know what was going on."

According to the complaint:

Thompson stated the next thing he remembered was the female on the ground in front of him. During the interview Thompson stated, "She came across a monster." When Detectives asked Thompson if he sexually assaulted Jane Doe, Thompson stated, "I don't remember sexually assaulting her." Then he also stated, "I went into a rage, when I came to, she was on the ground." Thompson stated, "The only thing I remember is just hitting." When questioned further about the sexual assault Thompson said something like, "I don't remember it during the actual assault, I just kind of zoned out during the rage." Detective Meredith and Grann asked Thompson if he could have sexually assaulted Jane Doe and he stated, "I could have."

Tests done at the Wisconsin State Crime Lab found Thompson's semen below the waist of the victim.

According to the complaint:

Analyst Scott stated that the single source of male DNA obtained from each of those swabs is consistent with the profile of Brandon Thompson, them defendant, with a probability of one in one quadrillion. Analyst Scott stated one in one quadrillion is the highest probability that the Wisconsin State Crime Lab will identify.

Thompson's cash bail was set at $1 million on Thursday.


Previous reporting: Suspect has ties to UW Milwaukee

By Shaun Gallagher, Sept. 6, 2023

According to his attorney, Thompson graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a degree in Criminal Justice Administration and a minor in Psychology. Thompson’s name is listed in the December 15, 2019 commencement list on UW-Milwaukee’s website.

UW-Milwaukee 2019 commencement list
Thompson is listed as a graduate of the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare in the December 2019 commencement.

His attorney tells TMJ4 News, Thompson graduated from Oregon High School and his family has strong ties to the Madison Community. Thompson currently works for a biotech company in the Madison area and his father is an Army veteran who worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Photos of Brandon Thompson
Brandon Thompson's attorney provided these photos of him to TMJ4 News. TMJ4 News has a policy against using mugshots of suspects of crimes.

While police are holding back details from the attack, radio traffic paints a disturbing picture.

“Behind the house, a naked female covered in blood.”

“We’re in contact with her. She’s beaten up pretty good. She’s not really conscious.”

“This case will not be complete until this cowardly attacker receives the justice he deserves,” Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Barnes announced law enforcement arrested Thompson early Wednesday morning. He credited collaboration between law enforcement agencies, a variety of video, and community tips to the apprehension of Thompson.

Sunday morning, about two hours before the victim was found, police say Thompson was pulled over by Fitchburg Police for a registration violation. Investigators matched Thompson’s clothing in those officers’ body camera footage to surveillance videos in Madison later that night.

“Clothing worn by Thompson matches several public space cameras which caught him walking on foot behind our victim just prior to the assault,” Barnes said.

Additionally, Barnes says Thompson remained at the scene of the crime and spoke to a witness.

“Our investigation revealed Thompson was at the scene of the crime as evidenced by witnesses during our initial canvass,” Barnes said. “Thompson told this witness he had just found our survivor, pretending to be an innocent bystander. We now know, he refused to stay on scene and immediately left in his vehicle parked nearby.”

The woman is expected to survive but is still in critical condition.

“Her life is forever changed,” Assistant Chief Paige Valenta of the Madison Police Department said. “Her family’s life is forever changed. We will continue to work hard to ensure that Mr. Thompson is held fully accountable in a court of law for the heinous act he perpetrated.”

Valenta says in addition to the video evidence investigators collected, there is a variety of biological evidence.

“It’s fair to say this investigation is still closer to the beginning than its end,” Valenta said. “We certainly intend to and have submitted evidence to a crime lab of the biological realm.”

Valenta did not provide an estimate for when the results from the biological evidence will be finished.

TMJ4 News looked into Thompson’s background and found nothing but a couple of speeding tickets. The lack of a criminal history is something Chief Barnes said, raises even more questions.

“From my experience, that’s always a very big part of the investigation,” Barnes said. “Usually, there may be something this person may be hiding, something in personal or past life that we may need to know.”

Charges are expected to be filed against Thompson on Thursday.


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