PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Did Temple police do enough in their investigation at an apartment where a student was killed?
That’s one question stemming from testimony in a preliminary hearing for a man accused in Jenna Burleigh’s murder.
University cops were twice called to the building for reports of ‘terrifying screams’ but never followed up.
In witness testimony Wednesday, a Temple graduate student who rented an apartment above suspect Joshua Hupperterz’s apartment says she called Temple police directly around 2:15 a.m. on August 31st, 2017.
Surveillance video shows Hupperterz and 22-year-old Burleigh, who was a student at Temple, entering his apartment at 2:11 a.m.
The witness testified she heard what “sounded like a woman being murdered in a horror movie, but worse.”
She said Temple police officers came out and were there for 15 minutes, told her to get some sleep and look briefly outside, didn’t see anything and left.
Around 4 a.m., that same student once again directly called Temple University police.
She says she told a dispatcher she heard blood-curdling screaming coming from a female. After three minutes, that screaming stopped.
Terrified, she called Temple police, again.
Again, officers arrived but didn’t see or hear anything and left. She said she didn’t see them do anything further, like knocking on the doors of her neighbors.
Meanwhile, authorities believe that is when Jenna Burleigh was being killed in the apartment downstairs.
This situation, is very similar to something that has happened in Philadelphia, city officials say. Philadelphia Police Department spokesman Sekou Kinebrew says there were two different times in the past 10 years, where a 9-1-1 call was placed, officers arrived, door-knocked and left, only to find out later: a murder happened.
As a result, a new, strick policy was put in place.
“A Philadelphia officer would be directed by the policy to then call a lieutenant about where that noise is coming from and then what to do,” said Kinebrew.
“Meet that person, get a better sense of where he or she is hearing the noises from. Go down there, see if anyone answers. If no one answers, that’s when it would be notify a supervisor Lieutenant or higher.”
And if needed, the high-ranking officer would then decide “whether or not it’s appropriate to make force-entry into the house or not.”
Temple University officials refused to outline their policy for handling such calls.
CBS3 reached out to Temple University multiple times, inquiring about their police department’s policy on responding to potential domestic disturbance calls.
Specifically, we asked:
- Does the Temple University Police Department have a policy in place on how officers respond to possible domestic disturbance calls, even if it appears nothing is happening when officers arrive?
- What policy does the Temple University Police Department have in reaching out to the Philadelphia Police Department on calls in their district? The Temple graduate student who called police twice lived in an off-campus, non-university owned building within the Philadelphia Police Department’s 22nd district.
University officials failed to provide any specific answers to our questions, despite multiple attempts. Instead, CBS3 was given this statement:
“The safety and well-being of Temple students is the university’s top priority. In line with that commitment, Temple Police regularly respond to noise complaints in its patrol area and work closely with Philadelphia Police on safety issues. In this case, we remain focused on supporting the criminal process to ensure that justice is served for Jenna Burleigh and her family. Our thoughts and prayers remain with them over this tragic loss.”
Burleigh suffered nearly 150 injuries, from head to toe, including contusions, stab wounds, bruises, scratches and a crushed throat. Her body was found three days later, inside a plastic blue container in Wayne County, on a property where Hupperterz’s grandmother lives.
Surveillance video shows Hupperterz and Burleigh leaving a campus-area bar, walking to his apartment and entering.
Blood and DNA evidence were presented during a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, along with several eye-witnesses.
A Philadelphia judge has upheld all charges against Hupperterz, including murder, abuse of corpse and related offenses.
His formal arraignment is scheduled for December 20th.