They'd stop to chat with Scanner Dan, the grizzled guy with a walkie-talkie buzzing at his hip as he asked for change. They'd offer odd jobs to a man known as Snowball, who was rumored to have been a smuggler for the Chicago mob during Prohibition.
Then two violent slayings in less than three months shook residents in the state capital, which is also home to the main campus of the University of Wisconsin.
Both victims were stabbed in their homes in the middle of the day by strangers, police said.
Though investigators have no suspects, the police focused on the city's homeless and transients, among others. Now a backlash against Madison's down-and-out population is brewing.
May 27, 2008
The L.A. Times takes note of an attitude change in Madison, Wisconsin: