Philadelphia

At Trial, State Police Describe Finding Slain Temple U. Student's Body in a Blue Bin in a Shed in Rural Pennsylvania

Josh Hupperterz is accused of killing Jenna Burleigh after meeting her at a bar popular with Temple students

What to Know

  • Jenna Burleigh disappeared in 2017 after leaving a bar near Temple's campus in North Philadelphia.
  • Monday, a state police officer described finding her body inside a blue bin in a shed in rural Pennsylvania
  • Josh Hupperterz has pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse for putting Burleigh's body in the shed, but not guilty to her murder.

A state police investigator Monday described finding the body of a murdered Temple University student crumpled inside a blue bin in a small metal shed in rural Wayne County, Pennsylvania.

Jenna Burleigh was killed in August 2017. Her body was found in the shed on a wooded property owned by defendant Josh Hupperterz's grandparents.

After a step-by-step account of the property, shown through photographs taken as evidence, photos of Burleigh’s body inside the tub showed the beaten, bloody state in which police found her.

Hupperterz has already pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence for moving Burleigh's body to his grandparents' house. But he has pleaded not guilty to murder and using an instrument of a crime.

Prosecutors claim that Hupperterz attacked and killed Burleigh after having sex with her. But Hupperterz's defense attorney, David Nenner, has claimed that his roommate is the real killer. 

Following the testimony of DNA and forensics experts Monday, Nenner asked Judge Glenn Bronson that he be allowed to call a toxicology expert to the stand to weigh in on testimony given by that roommate, Jack Miley, earlier in the trial.

Miley had testified that he was too intoxicated and high from a mix of beers, whiskey and Xanax to wake up from any fight between his roommate and Burleigh.

Nenner argued that Miley is “prone to blackouts” and that during blackouts from the toxic mix of booze and drugs could have done something he doesn’t remember.

Bronson said Nenner would have to provide some evidence of previous blackouts by Miley before being allowed to call a toxicologist to weigh in on Miley’s condition on the night Burleigh was killed.

That evidence could possibly include Hupperterz taking the stand in his own defense. It remains uncertain if the defendant will do that.

A DNA forensic expert with the Philadelphia police department will resume his testimony Tuesday morning. For much of the afternoon Monday, the scientist, Benjamin Levine, testified that DNA at the scene of the crime inside Hupperterz’s apartment linked the defendant and Burleigh to blood and skin particles on evidence. None of the DNA evidence linked Miley to the violence that preceded Burleigh’s killing, Levine testified.

Prosecutors have said that Hupperterz - after having oral, vaginal and anal intercourse with Burleigh - took “her down to the ground and strangled her, naked, on the kitchen floor.”

Hupperterz punched the film student 38 times, broke a cereal bowl over her head, stabbed her repeatedly after wrestling a knife from her, then strangled her so severely that he broke her larynx, according to Assistant District Attorney Jason Grenell.

Miley testified that he awoke the following afternoon to find Hupperterz "sweating profusely and really nervous."

Photos: The Life of Jenna Burleigh

Miley is not charged with a crime.

Hupperterz's lawyer has challenged in court Miley's testimony of a booze-fueled night that ended with Miley drunkenly asleep in his bed and Burleigh murdered in their North Philadelphia apartment.

”You can’t hear people screaming as if it’s a horror movie?” David Nenner, Hupperterz’s lawyer, asked Miley last week.

”No,” Miley answered, adding that a combination of booze, cannabis, Xanax and white noise from a floor fan prevented him from hearing Burleigh's cries.

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Josh Hupperterz

Throughout much of Friday’s testimony, Hupperterz’s lawyer challenged Miley’s recollection, going through several pages of phone records showing that Miley and Hupperterz contacted each other after leaving Pub Webb and several times throughout the following afternoon. Miley said at least a few of the calls were to get the WiFi password for his sisters.

One of his sisters testified Friday that she sat in blood splattered on the living room futon. Blood was also found in the kitchen and bathroom and sprinkled on a broom, gauze and bits of broken ceramic, investigators said.

A corporal with Pennsylvania State Police also took the stand Friday, telling the jury that Hupperterz never mentioned Burleigh’s name during three hours of interrogation. He told officials that scratches on his neck were the result of rough sex with a woman named Vicky.

During questioning, Hupperterz appeared “calm and conversational,” according to state police, according to state police.

Josh Hupperterz, who is on trial for the 2017 murder of Temple Student Jenna Burleigh, claimed that it was his roommate who murdered her. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and use of an instrument of a crime, but guilty to abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. You stare at the phone waiting for the call,” Grenell said during his opening argument. “The Burleighs would never have that. They would never hear from their daughter again.”

Earlier last week, Hupperterz’s cousin testified that he unknowingly helped transport Burleigh’s body out of the city in a blue tote bag.

Wednesday was day two of the trial for Josh Hupperterz. He was accused of beating and strangling Jenna Burleigh, a Temple student, after he met her at a bar. Jurors heard from witnesses, including Hupperterz’s cousin, who claimed he unknowingly helped move Burleigh’s body.

The cousin, Erick Carlson, has not been charged in connection with the murder. The 30-year-old steel mill worker from Philadelphia said he found Hupperterz cleaning up blood in his apartment. 

Hupperterz turned down a plea offer in December from the Philadelphia District Attorney's office, which had offered 30-to-60 years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea. Hupperterz could face up to life in prison if convicted at trial.

Correction (Jan. 14 2019, 3:20 p.m.): An earlier version of this article had an incorrect month for Burleigh's murder. She was killed in August 2017.

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