MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Jeffrey Willis, the man convicted of murdering Rebekah Bletsch, will be sentenced Monday morning.
Willis was convicted last month of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Bletsch, a 36-year-old mother, was shot and killed in June 2014 while jogging along a rural road near her home north of Muskegon. Her murder remained a mystery until the spring of 2016.
In April 2016, a 16-year-old girl told authorities she was walking home from a party and got lost. She said a man in a silver minivan pulled up. She asked to use his phone and got in his car. She said when she got in, he started driving and didn’t give her the phone. She said she then saw a gun, so she jumped out of the moving van and took off running. Investigators say Willis tried to shoot her, but his gun jammed twice.
The teen’s report to police broke the Bletsch case wide open. Authorities arrested Willis in connection to kidnapping in May 2016. Investigators say that when they searched his minivan, they found the gun that killed Bletsch.
During Willis’ trial, investigators said that a sex toy and glove found in Willis’ van had Bletsch’s DNA on them. Investigators also explained the ballistics testing that matched the gun from the minivan to Blestch’s murder.
Willis took the stand in his own defense, saying he didn’t kill Bletsch.
Jurors didn’t believe him. It took them only about 90 minutes to convict him. After the verdict came down, Bletsch’s family members in the gallery wept and hugged one another.
“Obviously, the evidence was well presented and they (the jury) came to a good conclusion rather fast,” Bletsch’s father Nick Winberg told 24 Hour News 8 shortly afterward. “We’re pleased that now we can heal up somewhat and move on.”
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