A man who was arrested in western Michigan faces charges of abducting and killing of a gas station clerk who went missing more than three years ago.
Forty-six-year-old Jeffrey Willis is accused of kidnapping and murdering Jessica Heeringa, 25.
The victim worked at a gas station in Norton Shores, near Muskegon. She disappeared while she was about to close up for the night. While the body of Heeringa has not been discovered, Muskegon County prosecutor DJ Hilson said she probably died 24 to 48 hours after being kidnapped on April 26, 2013.
Jeffrey Willis: Suspect facing separate charges of kidnapping and killing
“We are actively pursuing any and all leads on where Jessica may be laying to rest right now,” Hilson said.
As reported by the Associated Press, charged with murder and kidnapping, Willis is already facing charges in a couple of other cases. These involve the 2014 shooting of 36-year-old Rebekah Bletsch and attempted kidnapping of the teenager in April.
If convicted, Willis could be sentenced to life in prison without a possibility of parole.
Jeffrey Willis: Suspect is a ‘monster’
“This individual, Mr. Willis, is a monster,” Hilson said. “What his total motivation was that’s only for him to say. Ultimately, I think, this was part of who he was as a person.”
As reported by WZZM 13, the teenager who had escaped Willis’ van brought a break in the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Heeringa by identifying Willis in a photo line-up. Speaking about the teenager, Hilson said, “I consider that young lady a hero. Her bravery and her willingness to really put her life on the line that fateful early morning has opened the doors to a lot of different things.”
When Willis was arrested in spring, police had found a pistol, role, chains, handcuffs and syringes in his van.
Willis’ 47-year-old cousin, Kevin Bluhm, faces charges of accessory after the fact to a felony. If found guilty Bluhm, whose bond has set at $250,000, could face up to five years in prison.