HAWLEY, Pa. — Joshua Hupperterz’s 80-year-old grandmother lives in a two-story brown cabin with a covered front porch and a dachshund placard next to the door, at the end of a short gravel drive with grass patches, along a dark road that winds through a forest thick with tall trees and foggy mist, fronting a steep slope down to a lake.
Fifteen minutes from the center of this old coal town on the Lackawaxen River in the Pocono Mountains of Wayne County, it is the house at which authorities say Hupperterz, 29, arrived last week in a Lyft car with a storage tote bearing the body of Temple University transfer student Jenna Burleigh of Harleysville.
It is where Burleigh’s body was found Saturday in what a police source called a utility shed. The Wayne County coroner ruled Sunday that Burleigh died from the combined effects of blunt trauma and strangulation.
On Wednesday morning, a car was in the driveway at Inez Stabilito’s home, and candlesticks were on the porch alongside a stack of mail and a raincoat. A two-car log garage at the end of the driveway could be what had been described as the utility shed. Dachshunds yapped at the sound of the doorbell. A woman shuffled them away and quieted them, but no one answered the door. A man driving through identified himself as the community’s director of public safety and asked a reporter to leave.
Closer to town, at Rolly’s Pizza & Grill on Purdytown Turnpike, three men working the kitchen just before noon said a friend who lives in the grandmother’s neighborhood, and was familiar with the accused killer, was disconcerted. They said the news of the town’s alleged connection to a murder had people talking.
“It’s pretty rare,” said a man who called himself J.J., wiping his hands on his apron. “You don’t get that every day over here. And people I know knew him, and they were just like, ‘That’s crazy.’”
Where Jenna Burleigh Was Killed and Found
Hupperterz, a former Temple student, allegedly met Burleigh at a bar near campus and killed her in his North Philadelphia apartment. He placed her remains in a container that was then taken to his mother’s Jenkintown home, where he later put it into a Lyft car and rode more than 100 miles to his grandmother’s house, a police source said. He is charged with murder, abuse of a corpse, possession of an instrument of crime, and tampering with evidence.
At Gary’s, an auto shop along Route 6 on the outskirts of town, Ray Heslop was waiting Wednesday afternoon in the car bay while his truck was being worked on. The grisly case was unusual for the area, he said. “It’s not heard of too much around here,” he said. Because of that, the news coverage has generated “a little bit of town talk.”
Over at the Pines Tavern, bartender Lauren Moore, who wore an Eagles T-shirt, said the story has been a big topic of conversation at her other job at the Church Street Laundromat.
“It’s a big deal for our small town,” said Moore, who moved here 17 years ago from Pine Hill, Camden County. “Especially for him to bring the body up here. Why? And to take a Lyft car at that.”
Police have said Hupperterz and Burleigh left together last Thursday morning from Pub Webb, a bar in the 1500 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, near Temple’s campus. Their departure was captured by a surveillance camera. When Temple police questioned Hupperterz after Burleigh was reported missing, he told them he had been too drunk when he left the bar to remember who was with him, police said.
At the Burleigh family home in Harleysville on Wednesday, a man who answered the door did not want to speak to a reporter. The family appeared to be receiving friends during the day as visitors entered the home.
Locally, plans have been set for services to remember the 22-year-old whom friends have described as “unapologetically herself.”
The Temple Student Government and the Temple Progressive NAACP will hold a vigil for Ms. Burleigh from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday at Founder’s Garden, near 13th Street and Polett Walk on the university’s main campus. Ms. Burleigh, an advocate for social justice and equality, blogged about her views and attended marches and rallies.
“This will be a space for the Temple community to unite together, grieve the loss of our former Owl, and remember all the gifts that she brought to the university,” the student government wrote on its Facebook page. “It is open for everyone to join. There will be a time for open-mic sharing, as well as a space to write encouraging letters to the Burleigh family. Candles and/or flowers will be provided. We hope to see you there to celebrate Jenna’s life.”
In addition, a funeral and viewings have been set for Ms. Burleigh.
She was a 2013 graduate of Souderton Area High School and received an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Montgomery County Community College. She had transferred to Temple this year as a junior majoring in film and media studies.
She is survived by her parents, Joseph E. III and Jacqueline Zazyczny Burleigh; a sister, Janelle; and brothers Jeb and Jacob.
The viewing will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Williams-Bergey-Koffel Funeral Home, 667 Harleysville Pike, Telford, and on Friday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church, 1601 Derstine Rd., Hatfield. A Funeral Mass will follow at 11 a.m. Friday at the church. Burial will be private.
Memorial contributions may be made to Jenna’s Blessing Bags for the Homeless, with checks payable to “Univest Foundation – Jenna’s Blessing Bags” and sent to Univest Foundation, 14 N. Main St., Box 197, Souderton, Pa. 18964.
Condolences may be left for the family at www.WilliamsBergeyKoffel.com.
Staff writers Julie Shaw and Chris Palmer contributed to this article.