NEWARK, N.J. — Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, 20, of Orange pleaded not guilty to a second murder in Essex County Superior Court Tuesday morning.
Investigators believe he strangled a Newark woman, Joanne Brown, 33, and left her body inside a boarded up home on Highland Avenue in Orange.
Brown’s body was discovered on December 5, just four days after a 20-year-old college student Sarah Butler was located in the woods of a 400-acre county nature preserve, Eagle Rock Reservation.
Wheeler-Weaver also pleaded not guilty to that murder. Sarah Butler’s family, of Montclair, attended the initial proceeding. Her father, Victor Butler, shouted at the suspect from the back of the court room.
“Why’d you do that?” he yelled, while Butler’s mother sobbed.
Investigators say Butler and Wheeler-Weaver were acquaintances.
Evidence suggests they were not romantically involved and Wheeler-Weaver did not attend New Jersey City University, which is where Butler was enrolled.
Investigators say the suspect did not know the second victim.
Wheeler-Weaver is being held at the Essex County Jail on $5 million bail. The case is now headed for a grand jury.