A judge in the case against Joshua Hupperterz, a former student accused of killing junior film and media arts major Jenna Burleigh, upheld the charges against Hupperterz at a seven-hour preliminary hearing on Wednesday.
Hupperterz will be tried on charges for murder, abuse of corpse and separate drug-related crimes. He will be arraigned on Dec. 20.
Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge David Shuter allowed prosecution to submit testimonies from 10 witnesses at the preliminary hearing, along with evidence collected from several crime scenes.
A clearer timeline of events was released about Hupperterz’s whereabouts from the time he first met Burleigh at Pub Webb on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 16th Street to when her body was found more than 100 miles away from Main Campus in Wayne County, Pennsylvania.
On Sept. 2, Burleigh was found dead in a plastic container on Hupperterz’s grandmother’s property in Hawley, Pennsylvania, two days after her family reported her missing to Lower Salford and Temple Police departments.
Prosecution introduced video footage taken from multiple locations near Main Campus taken during the early morning of Aug. 31, in which police identified two people to be Hupperterz and Burleigh. Police said they believe Burleigh died in Hupperterz’s apartment on 16th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
Burleigh sustained more than 143 injuries, including two stab wounds and more than 39 head injuries. The medical examiner ruled that she died from blunt force trauma and strangulation.
Footage from inside Pub Webb shows Burleigh leaving the bar at 2:07 a.m. with Hupperterz. The two then walked down Cecil B. Moore Avenue toward 16th Street, according to security footage. A security camera on the facade of an apartment near Hupperterz’s residence shows the two entering his apartment around 2:11 a.m. on Aug. 31.
During the lengthy preliminary hearing, more than 20 friends and family sat in and listened to the detailed testimonies of Burleigh’s injuries and death. Some of her close friends and relatives wore cat ears in remembrance of Burleigh, which she had been seen wearing in photos posted on her Facebook page.
Hupperterz arrived to court early Wednesday morning on crutches with an injury on his right foot, wearing a gray knit sweater and large glasses.
Noelle Sterling, a graduate student who lives in the same building as Hupperterz, called Temple Police twice in the early hours of Aug. 31. Sterling testified that she heard noises coming from the backyard of the building, including the crunches of gravel and loud “bangs.” The backyard was only accessible through the first-floor apartment where Hupperterz lived. She said she was afraid an intruder had entered the backyard.
Temple Police arrived within five minutes of her 2:15 a.m. call. They told Sterling they would look at the backyard and that she should go to sleep.
Sterling was again startled a few hours later by high-pitched screams at 4 a.m. She immediately called Temple Police.
“It was like you were in a horror movie, but more real,” she said in court.
The screaming lasted approximately three minutes and then stopped “suddenly,” she said. Sterling also heard a dog barking, which she said belonged to Hupperterz.
Temple Police arrived at the apartment and asked Sterling from where the screams were coming. She told police she was unsure, but thought they could be coming from a different building.
Prosecution also introduced witnesses who were with Hupperterz when he transported Burleigh’s body to various locations on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.
Erik Carlsen, Hupperterz’s cousin by marriage, testified that he helped Hupperterz transport the blue, plastic storage bin from his 16th Street apartment to his mother’s home in Jenkintown.
On Aug. 31, Carlsen came to the apartment and found Hupperterz cleaning up blood at the rear door in the living room. Carlsen also testified that he noticed the futon was covered with a blanket, which was unusual. The Philadelphia Police Crime Scene Unit would later discover blood and a handprint on the futon.
Hupperterz asked Carlsen to help him move a plastic container filled with clothing from his basement. Carlsen said the container weighed nearly 100 pounds. The two moved the container from the apartment to Carlsen’s car, according to video footage.
Hupperterz then brought the container to Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, where it remained until the following day. Carlsen testified he did not know Burleigh’s body was inside the container.
To transport Burleigh’s body from his mom’s home to his grandmother’s, Hupperterz used the ride-sharing service Lyft.
His Lyft driver Avery Tucker testified he unknowingly transported Burleigh’s body from Jenkintown to Hawley, Pennsylvania, at the hearing.Around 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 1, Tucker was searching for riders on Lyft when he got a request elsewhere in Philadelphia from Hupperterz. Tucker picked up Hupperterz and his dog in his 2015 Nissan Versa Note car and began driving to Hupperterz’s requested destination. Shortly after the ride began, Hupperterz requested that Tucker turn off the Lyft app and he would pay Tucker $200 in cash and change his destination.
Tucker agreed and drove to a property owned by Hupperterz’s mother, where he left the vehicle to grab the plastic container to transport to his grandmother’s house. Hupperterz asked Robert Hagler, a 68-year-old family friend who lives with his mother in their Jenkintown home, to move the 100-pound bin to Tucker’s car.
Hupperterz rode with the storage container containing Burleigh’s remains next to him in Tucker’s car during the one-hour-and-40-minute trip to his grandmother’s property.
Jack Miley, Hupperterz’s roommate, and his attorney did not show up for court on Wednesday despite being subpoenaed by the defense. According to his LinkedIn, Miley is a 2017 kinesiology alumnus.
Hupperterz told police during the investigation that he was with Miley on Aug. 30 and was drinking heavily.
Temple Police Capt. Edward Woltemate testified that Hupperterz said he and Miley went to various bars around Main Campus on the night of Aug. 30, including the Draught Horse, a bar and restaurant on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street, and Maxi’s on Liacouras Walk.
Hupperterz is currently being held at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia.