Joel Patrick Courtney, a native of Beaverton, Oregon, abducted 19-year-old Brooke Wilberger in broad daylight near the campus of Oregon State University. He kept her bound in a van, raped her and then bludgeoned her to death. One month after Wilberger’s disappearance, Courtney’s wife (and three children) left him. Courtney followed them to New Mexico, where Courtney found his next victim. Near the University of New Mexico, Courtney abducted and raped another college student. She was able to escape and identify Courtney as her attacker. Police were then able to link Courtney to the murder of Wilberger. Courtney is serving a life sentence in prison without a possibility of parole.
Courtney had a long history of sexual assaults. According to his sister, one night she awoke to find him on top of her. She said he was partly undressed and had his hands around her throat. Courtney’s cousin told investigators that on four separate occasions, he tried to sexually assault her. At 19, Courtney was convicted of first-degree sex abuse and first-degree attempted rape. Dateline NBC will recount the rape and murder of Brooke Wilberger on August 20 at 9pm.