During her first week at Temple University, 22-year-old Jenna Burleigh went out to a bar in North Philadelphia with a group of her high school friends, and two days after leaving with a man her friends say was a stranger, she was found dead from blunt trauma and strangulation on the suspect's grandma's property.
According to police, video footage showed Burleigh and a man, now identified as 29-year-old Joshua Hupperterz, leaving Pubb Webb, a bar near Temple’s campus, at 2 a.m. on August 31.
Burleigh’s close friends recently spoke to Oxygen about the tragic events and dealing with the aftermath of Burleigh's death.
One of Jenna's friends, Alex Murphy, said she first met her freshman year of high school. Murphy explained they shared a friend group, and stayed in touch over the years since graduating. Their group of high school friends were hanging out at the bar with Burleigh the night she went missing, Murphy said, and everyone was left feeling shocked.
“It’s not that we felt safe in North Philadelphia, because people were always getting Temple alerts. It’s just that you feel so invincible and like nothing can happen to you. It’s not even North Philadelphia, it’s everywhere. We feel like we can’t be touched because this stuff only happens on '20/20,'” Murphy told Oxygen. “My first thought was that she was drinking and had passed out in her backyard. I kind of just disregarded it. You never think this can happen to someone close to you.”
Hupperterz allegedly went home with Burleigh the night she went missing, murdered her in his apartment, called a Lyft car and transported her body to his grandmother’s home 100 miles away in a storage bin, local affiliate NBC 10 reports. Hupperterz confessed to "elements of the crime," Police Captain John Ryan, commanding officer of the homocide unit, told reporters at a press conference Saturday, according to Philly.com.
Police found blood and drugs in Hupperterz’s apartment, and he is now being held without bail on charges of murder and abuse of a corpse. According to New York Post, Hupperterz was arrested in 2011 and 2013 for possession of marijuana and theft from a motor vehicle, respectively.
Burleigh was out celebrating the beginning of her first semester at Temple University. She was a transfer student from Montgomery Community College and grew up about 40 miles from the Philadelphia area in Harleysville, PA.
Before Burleigh enrolled at Temple, her friends say she’d been going to Temple’s campus all throughout high school to meet up with older friends who were enrolled, party and hang out on the weekends.
“Anyone that loved or knew Jenna feels broken and lost right now, without a clue if anything will make us feel at peace,” one of her high school friends, Erin Reagan, told Oxygen. “Anger and sadness have taken over me and my mind still hasn’t grasped what has happened or why. As much as we all want answers for the time being we must focus on how Jenna impacted each and every one of our lives.”
On film, Murphy said Burleigh came alive; posting to YouTube and Snapchat, she had dreams of a media career, known by her friends and followers for hitting record and belting out, “Millennial Alien Baby here!” at the beginning of her snaps.
“You could see her videos getting progressively better,” Murphy said. “We had a TV show called 'Red Alert' in high school. [Students] would make creative videos and if they were good enough, they’d be put on 'Red Alert.'”
After news of Burleigh’s violent death spread through her hometown, their close knit group all gathered to support one another and remember her at a vigil. There, Burleigh’s mom wore her daughter’s pink fuzzy slippers, just to have something of hers.
“There were balloons made with hearts at the vigil, and we made some of them look like aliens. I want people to never forget Millennial Alien Baby," Murphy tells Oxygen. "(Burleigh) would basically make vlogs and would say some bizarre things — just spinning out her thoughts and being honest.”
Whether she was going by Millennial Alien Baby or “our little glitter puff,” as Reagan called her, Reagan said she will be missed.
“You could walk into the room after an awful day of work and she’d scream your name and snuggle you with hugs that instantly would put a smile on your face,” Reagan recalled. “She accepted everyone and wanted to spread love, genuine love, even to people she just met.”
[Photo: Temple University Police]
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