Jenna Burleigh, the 22-year-old Temple University student found murdered after leaving a Philadelphia bar, cared passionately about social justice issues and was remembered for her electric personality.
The young woman, who had just started classes at Temple, a Philadelphia school, had a promising life ahead of her; she attended protests and was studying media and film at Temple. Burleigh died of strangulation and blunt force trauma.
Tragically, her body has now been found, and Joshua Hupperterz, a 29-year-old former Temple University student, is accused of murdering the young woman, who was last seen on surveillance video leaving a Philadelphia bar with him. Police now accuse Hupperterz of using a Lyft ride to transport her body in a storage bin. The Lyft driver has not been identified, and, according to NBC Philadelphia, it’s not clear if the driver had any idea what was in the bin; Jenna’s remains were found in that bin by authorities.
Hupperterz was subsequently arrested for his alleged involvement in the murder of Burleigh, police said. He is charged with murder, tampering with evidence, abuse of corpse, manufacturing with the intent to deliver and related offenses.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jenna Burleigh’s Father Reported Her Missing to Police & She Was Studying Film & Arts at Temple
At 8:23 p.m. on Thursday, August 31, Jenna Burleigh’s father reported the Harleyville Pennsylvania 22-year-old missing to the Lower Salford Police Department.
He told police that Jenna commutes to Temple University for classes and that …he met his daughter for dinner “and she informed him that she was going out with a group of friends that night, and was going to stay overnight with one of her friends,” a police news release said.
The father then dropped his daughter off at her friend’s house in the Temple area and proceeded home. He had not heard from his daughter since that time and considered it very unusual.
The father traveled to Temple University and discovered that Jenna also had not attended her scheduled class that day. Lower Salford Township and Temple University police both started looking for the young woman.
Temple University wrote, “Jenna joined the Temple community just this week as a junior transfer student from Montgomery County Community College, majoring in film and media arts. Our deepest sympathies go out to Jenna’s family and her classmates, both here at Temple and at Montgomery County Community College.”
The campus community is traumatized. “They have found her. Not cool, why would people be so evil? My prayers and thoughts go out to her family and friends. Another angel heaven received. Let’s find ways of to help protect young women and men and children. Let the missing become found in good ways over the bad,” one woman wrote on Facebook.
2. Police Saw Jenna on Surveillance Video & Hupperterz Allegedly Said He Was too Drunk to Remember What Happened
In a news release, Philadelphia police said that they “recovered surveillance video” that captured Jenna and a male identified as Joshua Hupperterz, from North 16th Street in Philadelphia, leaving a location on the 1500 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue and walking west towards 16th Street at approximately 2:08 a.m.
Temple Police then contacted Hupperterz by telephone and asked him what he knew about Jenna’s disappearance. Hupperterz allegedly told police that he “had been so drunk when he left the bar he had no recollection of who he had been with.”
On Friday, September 1, 2017, the police detectives spoke with Hupperterz’ roommate, who provided “investigators with credible information on the appearance of Mr. Hupperterz.” The release doesn’t say what that information was, but police subsequently obtained a search warrant for his residence on North 16th Street.
Hupperterz admitted to “elements of the crime” in a partial confession, Philadelphia Police Capt. John Ryan, commanding officer of the homicide unit, said, according to Philly.com. The newspaper quoted Ryan as saying “the killing did not appear to be premeditated, and that police did not yet know a cause of death.”
On Friday, September 1 at 8:45 p.m., Pennsylvania State Police found Hupperterz in Hawley, Pennsylvania, about 141 miles from Philadelphia, where he was taken into custody and transported to Central Detectives for further investigation into the disappearance of Jenna Burleigh, Philadelphia police said in a news release.
According to NBC Philadelphia, police searched both Hupperterz’ grandmother’s residence and state “police went to the home of Hupperterz’ grandmother in a small Wayne County borough in northern Pennsylvania.” They found Jenna Burleigh’s body there, NBC Philadelphia reported.
“Investigators believe Burleigh died inside the apartment on the 1700 block of North 16th Street. From there, her body allegedly was transported to Jenkintown and then to Paupack Township in Wayne County,” NBC Philadelphia reported.
According to Philly.com, citing police sources, “police found blood, large quantities of drugs and cash in Hupperterz’s North Philadelphia home…which sits around the corner from Pub Webb, a bar where Burleigh apparently met him for the first time.”
A search warrant “revealed further evidence into the investigation and narcotics,” a Philadelphia police press release said without being specific.
3. Jenna Wrote About Social Causes & a Friend Called Her ‘Electric to Be Around’
Friends wrote tributes to Jenna on social media. “Jenna was electric to be around, a smart girl who truly cared about others. Anyone who met her for one second will feel the void of her loss,” one wrote.
“Jenna Burleigh had a huge impact on my life. She was one of the first friends I made in high school. She always told me she loved me,” another friend wrote on social media.
She wrote about social justice issues on a blog and on Facebook, according to local news reports, recently writing,“I truly believe in the good in people and the magic that can be found in all of us. I will always fight for what’s right. I will fight for intersectional feminism because the whitewashing has to stop. I will always fight for equality for ALL. And my journey is just getting started.”
4. Jenna’s Father Says His Heart Is Broken
Burleigh was just starting a new school year in a new university. That campus community – and her distraught father – are now remembering her.
According to The Tab, “Temple President, Richard M. Englert has sent all students an email regarding Burleigh’s death and reminder to use counseling services at Tuttleman Counseling Services during this tragic time if needed.”
“Our Beautiful Angel Jenna is now in Heaven. Now I know for sure that you can have a ‘broken heart’ RIP honey,” her distraught father, Ed Burleigh, wrote on Facebook.
5. Jenna Was a Recent Transfer Student to the University
The 22-year-old was “from Harleysville who had transferred from Montgomery County Community College,” NBC Philadelphia reported.
In contrast, Philly.com reports that Hupperterz has a criminal history: “Hupperterz pleaded guilty in 2013 to theft from a motor vehicle and in 2011 to possession of drug paraphernalia. Hupperterz also popped up on the radar of police in Scranton in 2013, when he allegedly broke into a home and stole electronics, credit cards, laundry detergent, and a half keg of beer,” the newspaper reported.
According to NBC Philadelphia, Hupperterz also has ties to Temple University: He’s a former student.
Philly.com reports that, in the apartment, “police found blood spattered near the kitchen sink, rear door, and on a trash can lid, along with 10 to 15 pillow case-size bags of marijuana and about $20,000 in cash.”
The Philadelphia newspaper also reported that a neighbor “heard screams coming from the apartment around 4 a.m. Thursday” and “Hupperterz had scratches on his face and a cut of some kind on his hand. He told detectives that he injured his hand on a broken bowl in his home,” Philly.com alleged.