Jeffrey Willis guilty in Heeringa trial

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Five years after Jessica Heeringa vanished from a Norton Shores Gas station, Jeffrey Willis has been convicted killing her.

On Wednesday, a Muskegon County jury found Willis guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 12. First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.


A Muskegon County jury has reached a verdict in the trial of Jeffrey Willis, who's charged with kidnapping and murdering Jessica Heeringa five years ago.

There is no DNA evidence linking Willis directly to Heeringa, whose body was never found after she disappeared from the Norton Shores gas station where she worked on the night of April 26, 2013. So over the course of six days of testimony, the prosecution laid out 201 pieces of circumstantial evidence against Willis.

Willis owns a silver minivan like the one seen at the gas station around the time Heeringa disappeared, he was in the area that night and his blond-streaked hair matched a suspect description provided by a witness. One piece of evidence that seemed to emerge as crucial was that the laser site battery cover found at the gas station would fit the handgun recovered from his minivan.

The prosecution also framed Willis as a fledgling serial killer, presenting the details of the June 2014 murder of Rebekah Bletsch, of which Willis was convicted last year. On Willis' electronic devices, investigators found an electronic file called "VICS," apparently short for "victims." Inside were two subfolders labeled in code: one with Bletsch's initials and the date of her death and the other with Heeringa's initials and the date of her disappearance. Those subfolders contained photos of the women.

A young woman also testified about escaping an abduction by a man in a silver minivan in the spring of 2016. It was her report that led to Willis' arrest.



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