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Brooke Wilberger News

"This is the second page in the Brooke Wilberger Series."

Presented By

Bonnie M. Wells

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Suspect Charged With Murder

Of Brooke Wilberger

(AP) CORVALLIS A 39-year-old man held on rape and kidnap charges in New Mexico has been charged with the murder of Brooke Wilberger, a Brigham Young University student who disappeared from a Corvallis apartment complex more than a year ago, police said Tuesday.

Joel Patrick Courtney, in custody in Albuquerque, N.M., has been charged with killing Wilberger, confirmed Lt. Ron Noble of the Corvallis Police Department.

Noble refused to say what led police to Courtney, who was previously arrested on Nov. 30, 2004, for allegedly kidnapping and sexually assaulting a foreign exchange student at the University of New Mexico in Las Cruces.

That incident occurred six months after Wilberger's disappearance.

Then 19, Wilberger had just finished her freshman year at BYU in Provo, Utah. She was staying with her sister in Corvallis, home of Oregon State University.

She was last seen on May 24, 2004, cleaning lamp fixtures outside the Corvallis apartment complex her sister managed. Among the only clues investigators found were her discarded flip-flops and a pail of soapy water.

According to a Dec. 2, 2004, report in the Albuquerque Tribune, Courtney was jailed on charges of kidnapping a New Mexico foreign exchange student at knife point and forcing her into his car. There, he allegedly tied her up with a shoestring and gagged her with clothing, before assaulting her, according to the paper, which cited a police report.

Interviewed for the article, a spokeswoman for the Albuquerque Police Department said: ``This guy was a bad dude....We found out he had prior sex offenses in other states.''

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New Mexico Man Accused

In Brooke Wilberger Murder

Wilberger's Body Still Missing


CORVALLIS, Ore. -- A married father of three has been arrested in New Mexico for the murder of Brooke Wilberger.

Wilberger disappeared in May 2004 from an apartment complex near Oregon State University in Corvallis. She was doing work in the parking lot for her sister, who managed the complex. Her sandals and an overturned bucket were found in the parking lot.

A massive search turned up no sign of the 19-year-old Brigham Young University student. While police named several persons of interest and processed numerous tips, a year after her disappearance they said they were no closer to solving the case.

On Tuesday, the Corvallis Police Department said they would announce a significant development at a news conference the next afternoon. But soon, Capt. Ron Noble confirmed that a suspect was in custody in Wilberger's murder.

Joel Courtney, 39, was already in jail in Albuquerque, N.M., when Oregon issued a warrant for his arrest. He has been jailed since December, accused of kidnapping and raping a University of New Mexico student.

According to sister station KRQE in Albuquerque, the woman was walking home from work when Courtney allegedly put a knife to her throat and forced her into his car.

Police say Courtney took her to a parking lot, raped her and tied her up. She eventually escaped, and a passerby saw the naked woman running and called police. At the time of the alleged attack, he was free on bail awaiting trial for criminal battery.

Courtney's sister, Dina McBride of Beaverton, Ore., told KOIN News 6 that her family has been helping investigators for several months. She said they grew up in Beaverton, and he has a long history of drug and alcohol problems.

McBride said her brother was most recently living in the Albuquerque area with his wife and three small children. She saw him briefly in May 2004 when he passed through the Portland area.

Courtney's criminal history in Oregon dates back to at least 1985 when he was charged with attempted rape in Washington County. Court records show that he pleaded guilty to sex abuse and served three months in jail and five years probation.

He's also been arrested for escape and cited for various traffic violations. Courtney was scheduled to appear in Lincoln County court on a drunken-driving charge on the day that Wilberger disappeared. He never arrived at the courthouse.

Wilberger's body has not been found.

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Facade Of The Suburban Good Life Was Cracking For Wilberger Suspect:


Sunday, August 14, 2005



Joel Courtney had a wife, three kids and a nice house, all in jeopardy around the time Brooke Wilberger vanished:

After a troubled adolescence, Oregon native Joel P. Courtney, the man suspected of killing Brooke Wilberger, eventually moved to this booming suburb of Albuquerque and tried to start anew. And for nearly 10 years, outwardly at least, life in the desert seemed good.

He, his wife and their young son lived in a two-story home at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in a solidly middle-class subdivision. They had two more children. He kept his record clean after a conviction at age 18 for sexual abuse in Washington County.

But in 2004, Courtney's grip on suburban normalcy slipped. In rapid succession, the itinerant janitor, mechanic and fisherman was arrested and charged with drunken driving in March, abusing his wife in June, and abducting and raping an Albuquerque student in November.

Earlier this month came even more serious charges: A Benton County grand jury charged Courtney with the May 24, 2004, kidnapping, rape and murder of Wilberger.

What exactly happened to Courtney remains unclear. Courtney's wife, other family members and his attorney aren't talking. Likewise, Oregon investigators refuse to offer any details of their case against him.

But court documents and interviews with neighbors and New Mexico officials paint a portrait of an under-employed and angry man who at times drank too much and frightened his wife and children. He also was facing financial pressure. And when he was arrested last year, Albuquerque police found Courtney with a glass pipe for smoking crack cocaine.

Court records indicate Courtney, 39, spent much of 2004 on the road, traveling from Florida to Oregon and back to New Mexico. He drove cars registered to other people and companies. Whether his movements mean anything remains a mystery for now, but police think they've taken a dangerous predator off the streets.

They say they're convinced that had she not managed to escape, the young student Courtney allegedly kidnapped and raped at knifepoint in November would certainly have died.

"The girl is lucky," said Jinx Jones, a civilian investigator for the Albuquerque police who played a pivotal role in linking Courtney to the Wilberger case. "If she had not done what she did, she'd be another body."

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Response Page {ONE} For Brooke Wilberger

"Response page [1] is the [third] page in the Brooke Wilberger Series."


Bonnie M. Wells


Back to first page of Brooke's story

Without A Trace Series - Homepage


Pure Coincidence - Homepage


Shawna's Find Brooke Web Site

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Backgrounds by Marie

Posted: 6-18-05 at 1:30 am. / BMW

Updated:8-21-05:2008 / 6-13-2013 // BMW

6-13-2013 Note: I am adding a new page to the Brooke Wilberger series.

The new page will deal with a book - The Last Time We Saw Her - written by Robert Scott of California.

A link to my new page - All About Brooke - follows.


Bonnie M. Wells

All About Brooke