Investigation Discovery’s ‘Vengeance Killer: Newlyweds: Pushed to Kill’ chronicles how Josh Hilberling, 25, died a tragic death in his Tulsa, Oklahoma, apartment in early June 2011. When the 911 call came in to report Josh’s death, it initially stated a suicide attempt. However, the authorities soon discovered there was a lot more to the case than a young expecting father taking his own life as they peeled one layer after another to reveal a culprit who was surprisingly closer to home than imagined.
How Did Josh Hilberling Die?
The Tulsa Police Department received a 911 call reporting a potential suicide attempt on the afternoon of June 7, 2011. The caller recounted observing an individual breaking glass and falling from either the 18th or 19th floor of the University Club Tower apartments at 1722 South Carson in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This cylindrical building stood at a height of 377 feet. First responders hurried to the scene, specifically the eighth-floor parking garage of the University Club Tower. There, they discovered Amber Hilberling, then 19 years old, holding onto a body.
She informed the officers that her 23-year-old husband, Josh Hilberling, had fallen from the window of their 25th-floor apartment, plummeting 17 floors down. Joshua Blaine “Josh” Hilberling was born to Patrick and Jeanne Hilberling in Tulsa in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, on May 30, 1988. He graduated from Victory Christian High School in 2007 and played high school football. He was an armed forces veteran, having served his country honorably with the Air Force. He found joy in playing video games and cherished moments with his family.
Despite growing miles apart in Tulsa, Josh and Amber met in 2010, weeks before he was scheduled in Texas to receive his army training. The couple had a lot in common, with the handsome, athletic man falling in love with the beautiful, blonde woman who aspired to become a Christian counselor. After completing his army training, Josh asked Amber to marry him after finding he would be stationed out of Fairbanks, Alaska. They married in a small Wichita Falls ceremony in mid-2010 before leaving together for Eielson Air Force Base in October 2010.
According to the show, the couple found out they were pregnant with a baby boy three months after moving across the country. They returned to Tulsa in May 2011 to be closer to their family during childbirth. While interviewed for a 2017 UK series, Amber described Josh as “charming, irritating, smart, and annoying” before adding, “He was a good man.” Hence, it was shocking when the emergency medical technicians declared the 23-year-old expecting father deceased at the scene after allegedly falling through the window of his Tulsa apartment.
Who Killed Josh Hilberling?
However, Josh’s death was quickly ruled out as a suicide when the hysterical Amber told everyone at the scene that she had pushed her husband to death. As she kept repeating, “I can’t believe I pushed him,” the police arrested her on suspicion of homicide. The officers entered the apartment to find a packed duffel bag inside the bedroom and a shattered window in the living room. According to the show, they noticed the glass was overly thin, making it particularly hazardous since Oklahoma was known for its devastating tornadoes.
Upon investigation, the authorities discovered Armando Rosales, a maintenance man, was inside the apartment alongside the couple. Armando was on-site to repair one of the smaller bedroom windows. According to his account, he observed heightened anger in Josh and a subdued demeanor in Amber when he arrived. He reported signs of a potential altercation, noting a heated argument in the living room as he worked. Suddenly, the sound of breaking glass prompted him to rush to the living room, only to find it empty.
Peering through the broken window, he spotted the fallen body and initially believed that Josh had taken his own life. Josh’s parents painted a contrasting picture of the couple’s seemingly idyllic marriage, asserting that the reality was a nightmare due to Amber. They alleged Amber was physically abusive, and Josh endured the abuse, especially considering her pregnancy. The parents even talked about an incident in Alaska where Amber had purportedly struck Josh with a lamp, resulting in 21 stitches and him requesting a protective order against her.
However, the order was never granted as the couple did not appear in court. Josh’s father stated his son reached out on June 7, expressing his intention to file for divorce. Josh had even asked for help from the Domestic Violence Intervention Services in May 2011. His mother, Jeanne Hilberling, recalled, “We taught him to never hit a woman, but what we didn’t think to teach him was to get away. We will never forget him. He’s one of a kind.” Amber was initially charged with second-degree murder but later updated to first-degree murder.
How Did Amber Hilberling Die?
During her March 2013 trial, Amber claimed she pushed Josh in self-defense but never intended for him to die. Her defense counsel alleged the fingerprint marks and a scratch on Amber’s shoulder caused by her husband moments before she pushed him off of her proved the self-defense claim. However, the prosecution argued a lack of signs of struggle inside the couple’s apartment dismissed the self-defense theory, asserting she “caught her husband unaware, ran toward him, and pushed him from the side or back.”
A jury found Amber guilty of second-degree murder on March 18, 2013. She had rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in only five years in prison in early March 2013. She was sentenced to 25 years on April 23. While incarcerated, she gave multiple interviews, claiming, “He (Josh) started doing drugs and wanting to sell them again, and I was sad and disappointed and angry. That caused the fighting, and everything transpired that shouldn’t have happened.” She alleged Josh had broken their bedroom window during an earlier fight that day.
According to Amber, the altercation happened when Josh had allegedly decided to skip her father’s wedding to “sell pills instead.” She, who was seven months pregnant when the incident ensued, also alleged, “Josh was kicked out of the Air Force for drug abuse.” Amber, 25, hung herself from the bunk bed of her cell at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud, Oklahoma, and another inmate discovered her around 5:20 pm on October 24, 2016. Despite attempting life-saving procedures, she was pronounced dead at 5:33 pm.