PAUPACK TWP. - An arrest has been made in the homicide of a young woman missing from Philadelphia, whose body was located on private property in Paupack Township, Wayne County, Saturday afternoon, September 2.
According to Wayne County Coroner Edward Howell, the victim, Jenna Nicole Burleigh, aged 22, died from the combined effects of blunt trauma and strangulation. The autopsy and post-mortem examination was conducted Sunday morning at the direction of the Coroner.
The manner of death was ruled as homicide. She had been killed in the Philadelphia area.
On Saturday, police arrested the suspect, Joshua Hupperterz, age 29, from Philadelphia. Media reports indicate that he lived with a relative at Paupacken Lake Estates, where he was arrested. The body was found in a shed at 69 East Shore Drive.
Temple U. student
The victim was from Harleysville, Pa. She had recently started classes at Temple University. She was majoring in film and arts, according to Temple University.
Temple University President Richard M.Englert stated that the defendant, Hupperterz is a former Temple student.
“An investigation continues with police from Temple, the city of Philadelphia, and other departments,” Englert stated in an announcement posted on the university website.
“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.”
Englert reminded that counseling services are available on the Main Campus for anyone touched by the tragedy of Jenna’s death.
She was a graduate of Souderton Area High School.
Father reported her missing
Coroner Howell noted that regardless of where the death may have occurred, the coroner of the county in which the human remains were discovered and pronounced deceased, retains jurisdiction of the death investigation including identification and determination of cause and manner of death.
The victim’s father contacted Lower Salford Police Department at about 8:23 p.m., August 31, to report that his daughter was missing. He stated that on Wednesday he met his daughter for dinner, where she told her father she would be going out with friends that evening and would be staying overnight with one of her friends. He dropped her off at her friend’s home that evening. Jenna, who would commute to Temple University, never showed up for class and it seemed unusual that she did not contact her father, police said.
Police recovered surveillance video that captured Jenna and a male identified as the suspect, Joshua Hupperterz. Temple Police investigators contacted Hupperterz by phone to ask the whereabouts of Ms. Burleigh. Hupperterz told Temple 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, Philadelphia Police Department Central Detectives spoke with the roommate of Hupperterz, who provided investigators with credible information on the appearance of Hupperterz and the last time he spoke with Hupperterz. A search warrant was obtained for 17XX North 16th Street which revealed further evidence into the investigation and narcotics.
Wayne County authorities
PA State Police were contacted by the City of Philadelphia Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist in an investigation in the Paupack Township, Wayne County area.
At approximately 8:45 p.m. that evening, State Police found Mr. Hupperterz “in Hawley, Pa.” approximately 141 miles from Philadelphia where he was taken into custody as a “person of interest” and transported to Central Detectives for further investigation into the disappearance of Jenna Burleigh.
On Saturday, September 2, a body was located on the Paupack Township property. A search warrant was drafted by PA State Police and approved by the Wayne County District Attorney’s Office.
Joshua Hupperterz subsequently was arrested for his involvement in the murder of Jenna Burleigh. Hupperterz is charged with: Murder, Tampering with Evidence, Abuse of Corpse; Manufacturing with the Intent to Deliver and related offenses.
The investigation is active and ongoing with the Homicide Unit.
Defended social justice
A Go Fund Me online account was set up to raise money for the victim’s parents, in memory of their daughter. The article posted with the memorial fund page states, “Jenna was passionate and outspoken about issues of homelessness and social justice.” The article adds that Jenna wrote on Facebook, “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 always fight for equality for ALL.”
The fund was set up as a platform for Jenna’s friends and anyone else feeling a “void of her loss,” the article states. In the first day, $6,088 had been raised.