jessica heeringa

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Jessica Heeringa Still Missing 5 Years After Abduction From Michigan Gas Station

April 26, 2018 - 12:52 pm

NORTON SHORES (WWJ) - Five years ago today, Jessica Heeringa was abducted from a west Michigan gas station. Though a suspect has been charged in her murder, Heeringa's body has never been found.

Heeringa was 25-years-old when she disappeared April 26, 2013 from her job at an Exxon gas station in Norton Shores. Police think she was taken against her will by someone she likely knew, and that she was killed within 24 to 48 hours of her abduction.

Investigators said there was no indication of a robbery, as Heeringa’s purse, vehicle and other items were left behind at the scene. DNA testing showed a small amount of blood found outside the gas station belonged to Heeringa.

Tips poured in as investigators released a description of a silver minivan and a man seen in the area after her disappearance. Three years would would pass until suspect Jeffrey Willis was formally tied to the case in May 2016, following his arrest in an attempted kidnapping. 

Investigators have said Willis’ van resembles the vehicle seen by witnesses parked behind the gas station on the night Heeringa went missing. Willis’ van was even searched in the days following Heeringa’s disappearance, but Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said “there was nothing at that point in time to suggest at all that he was involved in any criminal activity.”

When Willis’ van was searched again following his arrest in the kidnapping case, investigators found a pistol, ammunition, syringes with liquid, a ball gag, chains, a mask and a bar with wrist restraints inside the vehicle. Child pornography and videos of bound women were also found in his home.

Willis, who is currently serving a life sentence for the 2014 fatal shooting of 36-year-old jogger Rebekah Bletsch, is facing murder and kidnapping charges in Heeringa's death. He has denied having anything to do with Heeringa’s disappearance, which gained national attention. Trial is set to being in May. 

Willis’ cousin Kevin Bluhm pleaded no contest last year to being an accessory after the fact of murder in Heeringa’s death. Authorities say Bluhm told police that the day after Heeringa went missing, he saw a woman bound in a Norton Shores home and helped to bury her. Bluhm later told police he had lied.

Heeringa's mother has been critical of the investigation, saying she still believes her daughter is alive and that police have the wrong suspect.

Anyone who may information is asked to contact Silent Observer at 231-72-CRIME.