Jeffrey Willis, left, and Jessica Heeringa

Jeffrey Willis, left, and Jessica Heeringa (Booking and handout photos)

Michigan Man Sentenced In Slaying Of Gas Station Clerk Jessica Heeringa

June 18, 2018 - 1:10 pm
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MUSKEGON, Mich. (WWJ/AP)  A man already serving life in prison for killing a jogger has been sentenced to another mandatory life term for the kidnapping and slaying of 25-year-old western Michigan gas station clerk, Jessica Heeringa. 

Jeffrey Willis, 48, shed tears in the courtroom and told a Muskegon County judge Monday that he is innocent and didn't get a fair trial.

After Willis finished speaking, Prosecutor D.J. Hilson called him "probably one of the most dangerous men" he ever hoped to encounter.

Heeringa’s case received nationwide attention in April of 2013 when she went missing from the Exxon station where she worked in Norton Shores, northwest of Grand Rapids. Although her body has not been found, investigators believe she was killed within 24 to 48 hours of her abduction.

Investigators have said Willis’ van resembles a vehicle seen by witnesses parked behind the gas station on the night Heeringa went missing -- and DNA testing showed a small amount of blood found outside the gas station belonged to the missing clerk.

While nothing was found during an initial search of Willis’ van after Heeringa's disappearance, when the van was searched again following his arrest in the unrelated jogger killing, investigators found a pistol, ammunition, syringes with liquid, a ball gag, chains, a mask and a bar with wrist restraints. Child pornography and videos of bound women were also found in Willis’ home, police said. 

Willis was convicted last year for fatally shooting 36-year-old jogger Rebekah Bletsch in 2014.

He is also expected to stand trial in the 2016 attempted kidnapping of a 16-year-old girl in Muskegon County’s Fruitland Township. She survived after, the teen told investigators, she jumped out of Willis’ van.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.