With tissues in hand, friends of murdered Temple University student Jenna Burleigh filed into a Philadelphia courtroom Wednesday morning. They appeared ready to confront her accused killer — Joshua Hupperterz — but he was not there.
Instead, his attorney asked for a continuation of Hupperterz's preliminary hearing. Burleigh's loved ones sat motionless as a court employee explained they would have to return in two months. They declined to be interviewed.
"We need more time to do the investigation," Hupperterz's counsel, David S. Nenner, said outside the courtroom.
"He's saying he didn't cause any harm to the girl and that's what he indicated to me. What happened that night — I'm not [at liberty] to talk."
The hearing was rescheduled for late November. Nenner has been on the case for just three weeks, he said.
Hupperterz is charged with murder, abusing a corpse, possessing an instrument of crime and tampering with evidence. He is also facing drug charges for possession of marijuana and barbiturates, according to court documents.
"This is obviously a tragedy," Nenner said. "We want to respect [Burleigh] and her memory. We need to see what the evidence is."
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Just one week into the start of the school year, Burleigh left a bar near Temple's North Philadelphia campus with Hupperterz in the early hours of Aug. 31. They went back to his apartment a few blocks away, investigators said.
Burleigh was killed about 4 a.m. inside that apartment, located on North 16th Street, police said. Hupperterz allegedly stuffed her body into a blue plastic storage bin and moved it to his mother’s home in Jenkintown. Sources said the 29-year-old then used a Lyft ride-hailing car to transport the remains to his grandmother’s home in Wayne County, Pennsylvania.
Hupperterz's grandfather, George Stabilito, later found Burleigh's body one day after a Philadelphia police detective and FBI agent visited the property to question Hupperterz.
Investigators noted in the report that he had scratches and cuts on his neck and lacerations to his right hand. A deep cut to his middle finger required several stitches. Hupperterz claimed he got some cuts when he broke a bowl while he was drunk, according to court documents. He said the scratches were from rough sex earlier in the week.
Investigators have not revealed a motive in the killing.