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Montoursville native confesses to murdering ex-girlfriend

Former Montoursville resident Jade Babcock has confessed to killing ex-girlfriend Brenda Jacobs after human remains, believed to be those of the 37-year-old woman, were found Monday afternoon in a storage locker in Philadelphia, according to that city’s chief prosecutor.

“The Lycoming County District Attorney’s Office is expected to file homicide charges against Babcock based on evidence collected by Pennsylvania State Police and his confession to the murder of Jacobs, who has been missing since 2003, but was not reported missing by her family until 2013,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a prepared statement on Wednesday.

Where and how Jacobs was murdered, if Babcock is to be believed, remained a mystery.

The reported confession came after state police discovered skeletal remains inside a locker at Safeguard Self Storage in the city’s Frankford neighborhood shortly after 3 p.m.

Babcock, who lived at 322 Jordan Ave. in Montoursville for several years before he was forced to find new housing when the borough’s codes department condemned the home a year ago, has been arrested and jailed without bail in Philadelphia.

Krasner’s office charged Babcock, 49, with abuse of corpse, obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence.

While investigators believe the remains found in the storage locker are those of Jacobs, who is also formerly of the Montoursville area, they said positive identification has not yet been made.

“When he was sober, he was a pretty nice guy. However, whenever he got into alcohol and drugs, he got violent,” a neighbor, who did not give his name, said of Babcock.

He said state troopers from the Montoursville barracks began showing up at Babcock’s former home, now vacant, in the middle of the afternoon on Monday and collected evidence until after midnight.

In five-gallon buckets, the troopers brought out coal from a coalbin that was in a barn at the back of the 322 property.

“They brought their own table and poured the coal, a little at a time, on to the table. They then sifted through the coal with their hands. They wore gloves,” the neighbor said of the troopers.

“I said to my wife ‘I think they are over there looking for a body.’ Low and behold, I was right,” the neighbor, who has lived on the block for many years, said.

Troopers brought to the scene what the neighbor believed was a cadaver dog, trained to detect human remains. The dog was taken through the home.

Police also “took pictures for quite a while,” the neighbor said.

The neighbor said that over the years, “stragglers went in and out of (Babcock’s) house, people he rented rooms to.”

A Montoursville borough police officer said Babcock’s house was “definitely a problem residence,” and that officers were called there numerous times over the years for a variety of disturbances.

Reached at his office on Wednesday afternoon, Lycoming County District Attorney Kenneth A. Osokow said “no charges have been filed here yet” against Babcock, who was living in Philadelphia when he was arrested.

“We hope to make an arrest in the near future based on how this investigation turns out,” he said.

Asked about Babcock’s confession to authorities in Philadelphia, Osokow said “I can’t confirm or deny it at this time.”

He did confirm that state troopers were at Babcock’s former home Monday looking for human remains and other evidence that might tie Babcock with Jacobs. He declined to comment on what the troopers found.

It was unknown how long it will take before authorities can positively identify the human remains found in the storage locker.

It also was unknown if a pair of mummified legs, found 75 yards apart, on the north shore (city side) of the Susquehanna River just west of the Hepburn Street pump station on May 11 belong to the human remains found in the storage locker. The remains there had no legs, a police source told KYW Radio in Philadelphia.

A DNA profile on the legs is already underway, Lycoming County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr. confirmed Wednesday night, but the results may not be known for several months. The profile is being done on a bone sample, he added.

It is hoped that dental records will help Philadelphia authorities in identifying the remains there, Kiessling said.

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