Woodbury man gets 50 years for woman’s 2002 murder

Posted: January 04, 2013

A 34-year-old Woodbury man was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in prison for killing a Clarksboro woman more than a decade ago.

Brian M. Mertz was found guilty of first-degree murder in October for attacking 22-year-old Jennifer Whipkey in May 2002. She was choked and beaten, and her body was stabbed and slashed more than 60 times, police said.

Whipkey's death was "truly tragic," Superior Court Judge Walter L. Marshall Jr. said at the sentencing, noting that she must have endured "imaginable terror."

Whipkey's body was found May 26, 2002, in a wooded area behind the Westwood Motor Lodge in West Deptford, where Mertz was living. The recent Air Force National Guard enlistee had last been seen about 3 a.m. the day before at the Adelphia Restaurant in Deptford, where she had gone dancing with friends, police said.

Mertz met Whipkey, who had a 4-year-old daughter, outside the club, according to authorities.

He was originally charged with rape and murder. The sexual-assault charges were dismissed for lack of evidence.

Mertz became a murder suspect as a result of his 2005 conviction for cocaine possession. A routine DNA collection revealed a match with DNA found in semen taken from Whipkey's body. He was arrested in December 2008.

Mertz must serve 421/2 years in jail before being eligible for parole, a spokesman for the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office said Thursday. Prosecutors had asked that he receive life in prison, while his attorney pushed for a lesser sentence, calling Mertz "redeemable."

Contact Jonathan Lai at 856-779-3220, jlai@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @elaijuh.


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