DNA evidence has helped authorities in Gloucester County to track down the man that they say stabbed a single mother to death more than six years ago.
Authorities say that Brian M. Mertz, 30, of Forest Creek Lane, in West Deptford, Gloucester County, met Jennifer Whipkey, of East Greenwich, after the 22-year-old had spent a night dancing at the Adelphia nightclub and restaurant in Deptford on May 24, 2002.
Whipkey, who worked at a Paulsboro pizza restaurant and had joined the Air National Guard shortly before her death, was last reported seen in the club's parking lot around 3 a.m. May 25.
A man delivering newspapers found her body the next day in a wooded area near the Westwood Motor Lodge, on Crown Point Road, authorities said.
Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton said that Mertz lived in the motor lodge, about 55 yards from where Whipkey's body was found.
Dalton said that evidence shows that Mertz sexually assaulted Whipkey and stabbed her several times before leaving her body.
Whipkey, the mother of a 4-year-old girl, had been stabbed in the throat, head, chest, abdomen and legs.
Dalton said that DNA obtained from Mertz matches DNA found on Whipkey's body.
"We have waited a long time for this day, I could not have received a better gift this Christmas than to see the person responsible for Jen's murder brought to justice," Jennifer's mother, Elizabeth McCool, told CBS 3 at an afternoon news conference in Woodbury.
Mertz was arrested Sunday without incident at a residence he shared with a woman friend, Dalton said.
He is charged with murder and aggravated sexual assault and was being held in the Gloucester County Jail in Woodbury on $750,000 bail.
"Finally they got this bum off the streets," said Joe Minnino, owner of the pizza shop where Whipkey had worked since she was 16.