Police: Man murders college student, transports body in 'Lyft'

Monday, September 4, 2017
Cause of death released for Temple student
Cause of death released for Temple student. Annie McCormick reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on September 3, 2017.

PHILADELPHIA -- A Philadelphia man is charged in the murder of a Temple University student and is accused of transporting her body to his apartment using a "Lyft" car.

29-year-old Joshua Hupperterz, of Philadelphia, was charged Sunday with the murder of 22-year-old Jenna Burleigh, who had been missing since early Thursday morning. He was also charged with abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence, and possession of an instrument of crime.

Investigators said on Saturday he had admitted to elements of the crime. A coroner said Burleigh died from blunt trauma and strangulation. The manner of her death has been ruled a homicide.

Burleigh, of Harleysville, Pennsylvania, was last seen in the area of Pub Webb near Temple University's campus around 2 a.m. Thursday.

Pictured: Jenna Burleigh and a surveillance photo released by police showing Burleigh with the clothes she was believed to have been wearing.

Police believe Burleigh and Hupperterz had just met before they left from the bar. Investigators say there is no indication of a prior relationship between the two.

Police said in a statement released Sunday morning, "Hupperterz informed him that he had been so drunk when he left the bar he had no recollection of who he had been with."

Police sources say Hupperterz transported Burleigh's body using a vehicle operated by "Lyft" between the two residences.

Investigators processed a vehicle with a "Lyft" sticker late Saturday afternoon at police headquarters.

"Lyft" released a statement:

"The allegations are devastating. We stand ready to work with the authorities in their investigation."

On Saturday afternoon, police discovered a body believed to be Burleigh on the lakefront property of Hupperterz's grandmother in Paupack Township.

Police believe Burleigh was murdered in Philadelphia, then her body was transported to the Jenkintown home, then to Wayne County.

Sources say Hupperterz's roommate told police he came home to cleaning products and it appeared someone tried to clean up blood.

Our sister station WPVI learned that after a search warrant was executed, blood and drugs were found inside.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said, "We still have a lot of work to do to include trying to figure out, who else may have been involved."

Burleigh had just started at Temple. A longtime neighbor of the Harleysville native says she was always looking out for others.

"She was a great person, always happy, always energetic. She would advocate for anything you could think of, she was all about equality," said Julie Hiltner of Lower Salford Township, Pa.

Hupperterz is a former Temple student. Court documents show he was charged with DUI, theft and burglary in 2013.

Charges against other individuals are possible, police said.

Burleigh's father reacted to the news of her death on his Facebook page Saturday afternoon.

The school's president said Burleigh had just joined the Temple community this week as a junior transfer student from Montgomery County Community College, majoring in film and media arts.

In a statement, the Temple Student Government said:

Those that knew Jenna described her as "big hearted," "hilarious," "fiercely feminist," "unapologetically herself," and "an incredibly woke young woman." She spent much of her time combating racism and sexism, as well as defending the rights for LGBTQIA+ community.