New Jersey

Man Pleads Not Guilty to Murder in Death of Missing New Jersey College Student Found Dumped in Woods

The body of 20-year-old Sarah Butler was found Dec. 1 in Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange

What to Know

  • Sarah Butler was reported missing Nov. 23; her body was discovered more than a week later in the woods in New Jersey
  • The medical examiner ruled she died of compressions to the neck
  • The Montclair woman was a second-year student at New Jersey City University in Jersey City

A 20-year-old New Jersey man has pleaded not guilty to murder and other crimes in the death of a college student whose body was found at a state forest reserve eight days after she was reported missing.

Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, of East Orange, entered the plea in court Tuesday. He was arrested last week in the slaying of Sarah Butler, who was a second-year student at New Jersey City University.

Butler's mother, who cried throughout the hearing, at one point shouted, "My baby!"

Wheeler-Weaver is being held on $1 million bail as the case goes to a grand jury. It wasn't immediately clear if he or his attorney had additional comments on the allegations Tuesday. 

Butler, of Montclair, was reported missing to the Montclair Police Department on Nov. 23 and had last been seen at a recording studio. Law enforcement officers found her body Dec. 1 in Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange.

Prosecutors say Weaver and Butler knew each other and spent time together at various points throughout the day before she was killed. Something happened, and police believe Wheeler-Weaver strangled the 20-year-old student, killing her, officials say.

He allegedly then took her car and dumped her body. 

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