Killer Gives Location of Brooke Wilberger Remains to Avoid Death Penalty – with previous case developments

Brooke Wilberger’s mother today said she was grateful to Joel Courtney, the man who pleaded guilty to murdering the Brigham Young University student, for finally telling authorities where to find the young woman’s remains.

Cammy Wilberger, visibly moved as she spoke at a news conference in Corvalis, Ore., said that after five years of not knowing where her daughter was, “We just want to strengthen our family and go on with our life.”

Authorities in Benton County, Ore., say Joel Patrick Courtney has led them to the remains of Brooke Wilberger as part of a plea deal. Wilberger disappeared in 2004.
Benton County authorities for the first time described what happened to Wilberger, who vanished from an Oregon apartment complex May 24, 2004.


Courtney said he abducted the blond 19-year-old college student at knife point, bound her in duct tape in his van, drove her into the woods, kept her overnight and then raped and bludgeoned her to death, Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson said.

In his “romanticized account of what happened,” Courtney hadn’t decided to kill her until he saw how hard she fought against being raped, Haroldson said, and then he hid her body in such a way that it was unlikely it would ever have been found.

“Brooke Wilberger reacted so strongly, that he decided that he had to kill her,” Haroldson said. “His comment was that he was surprised that she fought so hard.”

Wilberger was at least the third woman Courtney targeted in Corvallis that day, Haroldson said. He had previously attempted to abduct two Oregon State University students, but both were able to get away, the district attorney said.

Courtney’s agreement to tell officials where he’d left Wilberger’s body after kidnapping,raping and murdering her was part of a plea deal to avoid the death penalty, he said.

Haroldson said the Wilberger family was involved in the process and agreed with the decision, and that Courtney would have a sentence of “true life.”

Courtney, 42, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and received a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The district attorney would not disclose specifically where Wilberger’s remains were found, because the recovery process was still going on, he said. The only details he would give were that the location was in the county and on private property.


Brooke Carol Wilberger was last seen on the morning of May 24, 2004, in Corvalis, Oregon. She was working outside an apartment complex near the campus of Oregon State University which was managed by her sister and brother-in-law. Wilberger, a student at Brigham Young University, was reported missing. shortly after 10 a.m. Her flip-flop shoes were found in the middle of the apartment complex’s parking lot. She has not been seen since.


Current Developments

Remains of Brooke Wilberger Found
Sept. 21, 2009
In a stunning development in the case of a Brigham Young University student missing for five years, authorities said an Oregon man pleaded guilty to her murder and lead police to her remains. Joel Courtney avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to the aggravated murder of Brooke Wilberger in 2004.


Previous Developments

Courtney Extradited to Oregon in Brooke Wilberger case
April 8, 2008
A man serving time in New Mexico has been extradited to Oregon to stand trial for the 2004 kidnapping and murder of 19-year-old Brooke Wilberger. Joel Courtney, 41, is now being held at the Benton County Jail in Corvallis, where Wilberger was kidnapped in 2004.

Brooke Wilberger Suspect Sentenced in New Mexico
Dec. 11, 2007

The man suspected in the disappearance of college student Brooke Wilberger has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for a rape and kidnapping in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Joel Patrick Courtney now faces extradition back to Oregon to face trial for the 2004 murder of the 19-year-old Brigham Young University student.

Joel Courtney: Serial Killer ?
March 23, 2006
Joel Courtney, the man being held in New Mexico on rape charges and charged in Oregon with the abduction of missing college student Brooke Wilberger, is being investigated in murders of young blonde girls and women in at least four states, but he was cleared by the FBI this week in two Oregon cases.

Brooke Wilberger a Victim of Serial Killer ?
Jan. 12, 2006
Brooke Wilberger, the 19-year-old Brigham Young University freshman who disappeared while visiting her sister in Oregon and has never been found, may have been the victim of a serial killer who is being investigated in other murders and rapes.

Extradition Requested for Brooke Wilberger Suspect
Sept. 26, 2005
The Governor of Oregon has requested that the man charged with Brooke Wilberger’s murder be returned to Oregon, but the 38-year-old man will probably face trial in New Mexico for kidnapping and rape charges first.

Man Arrested
Aug. 2, 2005
A man being held in New Mexico on kidnapping and rape charges has now been charged with aggravated murder in the disappearance of Brooke Wilberger, who was last seen working at her sister’s apartment in Corvallis, Oregon May 24, 2004.

Police Seek Clues in Brook Disappearance

June 6, 2005
When Brooke Wilberger disappeared a year ago from her sister’s apartment complex in Corvallis, Oregon, someone who identified himself as “Brian” made a 911 call to report a green minivan being driven erratically. Police want whoever made that call to contact them again.

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