MI JESSICA LYNN HEERINGA: Missing from Norton Shores, MI - 26 April 2013 - Age 25

Jessica Lynn Heeringa
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Heeringa, circa 2013; Sketch of unidentified man; Jeffrey Willis

Missing Since: 04/26/2013
Missing From: Norton Shores, Michigan
Classification: Endangered Missing
Sex: Female
Race: White
Date of Birth: 07/16/1987 (32)
Age: 25 years old
Height and Weight: 5'1, 105 pounds
Clothing/Jewelry Description; A black tank top under a bright blue collared polo shirt with a Sternberg Exxon logo, blue jeans and high-heeled boots.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Heeringa has a lazy eye. She has the following tattoos: a sun and moon on her right calf, sleeping Z's on her left foot, a star on her back and a musical note and a peace sign on her left ankle. She may wear wire-rimmed eyeglasses.

Details of Disappearance
Heeringa was last seen working at an Exxon Mobile gas station in the 1100 block of east Sternberg Road in Norton Shores, Michigan on April 26, 2013. She had been working the late shift alone and disappeared sometime between 10:51 and 11:07 p.m., shortly before closing time. Her last cash register transaction took place at 10:51, and at 11:07 a customer found the station unattended. Authorities believe she was abducted.

Heeringa's coat, purse, keys, identification and $420 in cash were left inside the store, and her car was parked outside. There were no indications of a struggle and no money was missing from the cash register, but a small spot of her blood was found on the ground near the station's back door.

A witness reported seeing an unknown man flirting with Heeringa at the gas station hours before her disappearance. A sketch of the man is posted with this case summary. He is described as Caucasian and in his thirties, about 6'0 tall with a medium to heavy build and wavy, sandy brown or blond hair. He was wearing a bright red or orange sweatshirt and was driving a silver minivan, possibly a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country.

The gas station has no surveillance cameras, but a camera from a business a mile away from it shows a silver minivan driving by at 11:04 p.m., around the time of Heeringa's disappearance.

In May 2016, over three years after Heeringa's disappearance, Jeffrey Thomas Willis was arrested and charged with kidnapping a sixteen-year-old girl, Madison Nygard, who was able to escape from him after he lured her into his van. Several days later, he was also charged with the murder of Rebekah Sue Bletsch, a 36-year-old woman who was shot to death while jogging in Dalton Township, Michigan in June 2014.

A photo of Willis is posted with this case summary. When police searched his van they found a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol with the serial number filed off, ammunition for the pistol, a sheathed knife, two video recorders, five syringes and bondage material.

Willis also had bondage pornography, child pornography, a five-page list of American serial killers, and a three-page list of women's names and telephone numbers in his home. Authorities believe he downloaded child pornography off the internet and used a hidden camera to record images of minor girls using the bathroom in his home; he's also been charged in connection with that.

Kevin Lavern Bluhm, Willis's cousin, was charged with lying to police in their investigation into Willis's suspected crimes, including Heeringa's disappearance. When he was questioned in mid-May 2016, he said he hadn't seen Willis for almost a year and had never seen him with a handgun. He was later convicted of being an accessory after the fact and sentenced to time served, which was 476 days.

But in an interview a month later, he admitted he'd seen Willis in early May and Willis showed him a handgun at that time. He said Willis forced him to "take care of Miss Heeringa." He said he saw Heeringa's nude body and she had head injuries and injuries consistent with sexual assault. At the end of the second interview, he claimed he had made everything up.

Willis's van, a silver 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan, resembles the one sought in Heeringa's disappearance, and according to his coworkers, he had been to her gas station many times before, as it was along his route to work. His coworkers stated he'd discussed Heeringa's case with them after she went missing.

In November 2017, Willis was convicted of Bletsch's murder. He is still awaiting trial in connection with Madison Nygard's kidnapping. In September 2016, he was charged with Herringa's kidnapping and murder. Although the case presented at his May 2018 trial was almost entirely circumstantial, the jury deliberated only an hour and a half before convicting him.

Heeringa's body has never been located, but police still hope to find it. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.
Investigating Agency

Norton Shores Police Department 231-733-2691

Source Information
NamUs
ABC News
The Daily Mail
WOOD TV
Facebook Page for Jessica Heeringa
TWXYZ Detroit
Muskegon News
Jessica Heeringa's MySpace Page
The Vanished Podca


edited by staff to add media link
 
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SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

Administrator
Staff member
Jessica Heeringa was working alone at a gas station in Norton Shores, Michigan on April 26, 2013, when she disappeared. A witness told police he saw the 25-year-old mother being forced into a silver Chrysler minivan. Investigators found Jessica's cell phone, keys and purse inside the store. In September 2016, officials charged Jeffrey Willis, 46, with abduction and murder in relation to Jessica’s case. He pleaded not guilty. At the time he was facing charges for the April 2016 abduction of a teenager who ended up escaping. She led police to a van where, according to court testimony, investigators found bondage items and lists of women’s names and addresses. According to NBC affiliate WOOD-TV, investigators said they found a file labeled “VICS” (short for victims) that contained a folder labeled with the initials of a jogger named Rebekah Bletsch who had been found shot to death in 2014. The folder also contained a code for her date of death. In November 2017, Willis was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and felony firearm in connection to Rebekah’s 2014 shooting death. Police told WOOD-TV there was also a file bearing Jessica’s initials on Willis’s computer. On May 16, 2018, Willis was found guilty of Jessica’s kidnapping and murder. Willis is serving two life sentences: one for killing Jessica in 2013 and the other for killing Rebekah Bletsch. On December 3, 2019, Willis asked the Michigan Court of Appeals to grant him a new trial in Jessica’s murder, stating that some of the evidence that the jury saw in his trial should not have been admitted, according to WOOD-TV. The court agreed some evidence should have been excluded at trial, but said that doesn’t outweigh other “strong untainted evidence” that showed Willis was responsible for Jessica’s death.On December 27, 2019, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Willis’s arguments had no merit and that his conviction of Jessica’s kidnapping and murder will stand. Jessica’s body has not been found. Police told Dateline they continue to search but have no leads as to Jessica’s location. If you have any information regarding Jessica’s case, please call the Norton Shores Police Department at (231) 733-2691 or the Silent Observer at (231) 722-7463.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

Administrator
Staff member

Prosecutor wants to destroy van owned by convicted killer​

Authorities want to destroy a minivan that still belongs to a man who is serving life sentences for the slayings of two women in western Michigan.

The van played a role in Jeffrey Willis’ crimes in the Muskegon area. A teenager in 2016 said she escaped from the vehicle during a kidnapping. That incident jump-started investigations of two unsolved homicides.

“The van shouldn’t be back in circulation,” said Muskegon County prosecutor D.J. Hilson, who is asking a judge to approve a request to take it out of storage and destroy it.

Willis was convicted of shooting and killing Rebekah Bletsch as she jogged along a rural road in 2014. He also was convicted of kidnapping and killing a local gas station clerk who disappeared in 2013. Jessica Heeringa’s body still hasn’t been found.

At trial, Hilson said Willis kept a “rape kit” in a box inside the Dodge Grand Caravan.

Willis told a judge Monday that he wants to keep ownership of the vehicle, though he’ll never leave prison to drive it, MLive.com reported. There was no immediate decision from Judge William Marietta.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

Administrator
Staff member

Judge: Van owned by convicted killer of 2 will be destroyed​

A minivan owned by a man serving life sentences for the slayings of two women in western Michigan will be destroyed, a judge has ruled.

A Muskegon County judge ruled March 25 in favor of prosecutors' motion to allow authorities to destroy the vehicle rather than continue to store it, the Muskegon Chronicle reported.

Hilson said the victims' families will be invited to watch the vehicle's destruction, if they so desire.

“This van was an instrument in the crimes he was convicted of,” he told the Muskegon Chronicle on Tuesday. “Hopefully, this will add some peace and comfort to the victims and their families.”
 

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