NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) - A recording of a 911 call obtained by 24 Hour News 8 tells of the first person to show up at the Exxon Mobil where 25-year-old Jessica Heeringa disappeared was worried that someone might be hurt.
Heeringa was last seen at the Exxon Mobil on Sternberg Road in Norton Shores just before 11 p.m. April 26. Her purse and car were left behind at the gas station where she was working.
911 caller Craig Harpster told 24 Hour News 8 Monday night he frequents the gas station three or four times a week after work.
He said he arrived at the gas station at 11:07 p.m. Friday. He tried to pump some gas, but that had to be authorized by a clerk. He looked around the station for the attendant -- Heeringa -- who he had often seen cleaning around the time he was there. After seeing a purse, coat and cigarettes, he had a "gut feeling something bad happened."
That is when he called 911 at 11:15 p.m.
According to the 911 call recording, a portion of which can be heard above, a Muskegon County dispatcher received the call for help and dispatched an officer to the scene by 11:16 p.m.
"I just walked inside," Harpster told the dispatcher. "There's nobody. There's a car here. There's another car out front, but it's just very suspicious why there's nobody here."
He told the dispatcher that he called 911 even though he didn't know if it was an emergency.
"I'm just concerned that nobody's hurt," Harpster told the dispatcher.
Harpster said he routinely goes to that gas station after he finishes work.
"The cashier's supposed to be there but I don't see anyone," Harpster explained to the dispatcher.
He said he stayed at the Exxon until police arrived and told several people to avoid the gas station because police were on their way.
Harpster told 24 Hour News 8 he did not see any suspicious people or vehicles while he was at the Exxon.
Initially, the dispatcher called it a "suspicious occurrence." Police later classified Heeringa's disappearance an abduction. A task force has been assembled to investigate.
From the 911 call:
Dispatcher: Muskegon 911. Where is your emergency?
Harpster: Um. I don't know if it's an emergency. I just got out of work. I'm at the Exxon station on Sternberg Road. There's nobody here. Um, it wouldn't allow me to pump gas. I just walked inside, there's nobody. There's a car here. There's another car out front. But it's just very suspicious why there's nobody here.
Dispatcher: Did you yell or anything or...?
Harpster: Yeah, I hollered 'hey' and walked around the building. I don't know.
Dispatcher: It's still open, right?
Harpster: Yeah, when you walk in, the bell goes ding, ding, ding. The cashier is supposed to be there, but I don't see anyone.
Harpster: It just seems strange. I come here after work. I come here all the time for gas.
Harpster : I'd hate to the anyone come in and grab and run, you know.
Dispatcher: If you feel comfortable staying there, I do have an officer notified.
Harpster: I'm just concerned that nobody's hurt.
**Note: The caller specified he gets out of work at 11 p.m.
Heeringa, a 25-year-old mother, is 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighs about 110 pounds. She has blonde, shoulder-length hair and blue eyes. She has wire-rimmed glasses but may not be wearing them. She may be wearing a blue, collared shirt that says Sternberg Exxon.
Police are searching for a silver minivan, possibly a Chrysler Town & Country, that was spotted in the area around the time of the abduction. Police would like to speak to the driver, described as a heavy-set, white man between 30 and 40 years old, and having broad shoulders, and light brown, wavy hair parted in the middle and longer on top. He may have also been wearing a bright red or orange sweatshirt.
Anyone with any information about her disappearance or who noticed anything out of the ordinary in the area around the time of the abduction is asked to contact Silent Observer at 231.72.CRIME (27463), 911 or the Norton Shores Police Department at 231.733.2691.
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