Woodbury man convicted in woman’s 2002 killing

Posted: October 26, 2012

A Gloucester County jury on Thursday found a 34-year-old Woodbury man guilty of murder in the 2002 stabbing death of a 22-year-old Clarksboro woman.

Brian M. Mertz faces 30 years in prison without parole when he is sentenced in January for killing Jennifer Whipkey, the mother of a then 4-year-old girl. Whipkey had enlisted in the Air Force National Guard shortly before she died and wanted to be an air traffic controller, her family said.

Whipkey was stabbed and slashed more than 60 times, police said. Her body was found in a wooded area behind a West Deptford motel May 26, 2002.

She was last seen alive in the parking lot of the Adelphia nightclub in Deptford about 3 a.m. the previous day. Police said Mertz met Whipkey outside the club and later raped and murdered her.

Superior Court Judge Walter L. Marshall Jr. dismissed the sexual-assault charges due to a lack of evidence.

The murder had gone unsolved for six years until investigators matched the DNA in Mertz's semen with the DNA found in the victim's body, according to prosecutors. Mertz's DNA was collected after he was convicted of cocaine possession in 2005. He was arrested in the murder Dec. 21, 2008.

The jury deliberated for five days before reaching its verdict. First Assistant Prosecutor Michael Curwin said his office was "sincerely gratified" by the jury's finding.

Sentencing has been set for Jan. 4.


Contact Jan Hefler

at 856-779-3224 or jhefler@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter @JanHefler.

Read her blog, "Burlco Buzz,"

at www.philly.com/BurlcoBuzz.

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