MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The man who shared a home, cellphone, car and son with Jessica Heeringa testified Wednesday in the trial of Jeffrey Willis.
Willis is charged with the kidnapping and murder of Heeringa, who disappeared from the Norton Shores gas station where she worked on April 26, 2013.
Her boyfriend, Dakotah Quail-Dyer told jurors Wednesday that Heeringa started working at the gas station in 2012. He said she didn’t have any problems with her job or motherhood, but did struggle with drugs.
“I took methadone and so did she. She was on heroin,” he said.
Dyer said the day Heeringa disappeared, she dropped off him and their son at Dyer’s parents’ place. He said the last time he talked to Heeringa was around 10 that night, when he asked her to pick up some groceries before coming home.
“Nothing seemed wrong. She was happy,” Dyer said.
But the defense questioned how happy Heeringa was with her life.
Dyer testified their relationship was “rocky” and one of their fights became physical. He said they were “getting by,” but he was unemployed at the time of her disappearance.
The defense also brought up Heeringa’s fidelity and heroin use, which Dyer was upset about. He said his only encounter with Heeringa’s heroin supplier was over the phone, after he discovered her text messages with him.
>>Photos: Willis on Trial for Heeringa murder
“It was literally a 45 second conversation where I was screaming at him on the phone,” Dyer said.
He said he found out Heeringa was taking money from the gas station convenience store to support her heroin habit, but he said he didn’t find out about her second cellphone until an earlier court hearing.
Dyer said he thought Heeringa was talking and flirting with other people, but wasn’t in any other relationships.
He also testified that Heeringa had good relationships with her mother, grandmother and sister, and wouldn’t leave her son behind.
“She loved him very much,” Dyer said, ranking their relationship as a “10.”
When asked about the $400 found in Heeringa’s wallet at the gas station, Dyer said she had just cashed her check and he believed the cash was rent money. He said the amount was slightly less than their rent, but he knew the landlord, who would “let it slide” if they were late on paying.
Jurors also heard from A human resources employee for Herman Miller, who said Willis’ timecard indicated he took a vacation day on April 26, 2013 — the day Heeringa disappeared.
The second motorcyclist to see a minivan pull up outside the gas station that fateful night also testified, as did the last known customer to have seen Heeringa.
“She was mopping, she was in a great mood,” says Susan Elliot Mosely, who stopped at the gas station at 10:52 p.m. to buy a lighter.
At 11 p.m., Craig Harpster said he clocked out of his job and headed to the gas station where Heeringa worked.
“I relive it every day, five days a week,” Harpster said of his drive from his work to the gas station.
Harpster said when the pump didn’t react to his credit card, he walked into the store and found it empty.
“I felt like leaving, but my gut said call 911 and that’s what I did,” Harpster says.
Jurors heard that 911 call Wednesday.
They also heard from Carl Waur Jr., who said he saw Willis playing at a “Magic: The Gathering” tournament at the mall near the gas station the night Heeringa disappeared.
Waur said Willis was driving his van that night. He said Willis was still playing in the tournament between 9:30 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. when he checked in from his poker game a few buildings down.
Waur said tournaments typically went until 10:15 p.m. to about 11 p.m., but there was no hard end time. He didn’t know when that night’s tournament ended.
Willis’ coworker, Michelle Schnotala, testified she noticed scratches on Willis the day after Heeringa disappeared. When Schnotala asked him about the scratch marks, Willis told her he had a new, playful puppy that caused the marks, she said.
Schnotala also said her Walther P22 handgun disappeared from her home after the weekend of February 22, 2013. She said she had told Willis at work where she kept her gun and underwear.
Schnotala said she noticed snowmobile tracks around her home around the time of the gun’s disappearance. Willis was known to snowmobile on her property.
Schnotala confirmed the underwear found wrapped in tinfoil in Willis’ shed was hers.
Earlier in the day, a doctor testified about the effect of insulin on the body. Dr. Robert Rood said storing the insulin in a vehicle in summer, like the vial found in Willis’ minivan, would basically cook the insulin, rendering it useless.
He testified that the size of the syringes and the quick-acting insulin found in Willis’ minivan would be enough to incapacitate someone.
“If you drop your blood sugar too low, your brain starts shorting out,” he explained.
Rood said the insulin would work quicker on a thinner person whose heart is pumping faster. However, he told the defense it would take probably about 4 to 5 minutes after an injection into the muscle for a 105-pound woman to become incapacitated.
The doctor also agreed that someone with an insulin pump may need an injection in an emergency, like Willis’ then-wife.
Several detectives also testified about the bullets found at the scene of Bletsch’s murder, which they said were all manufactured by CCI and .22 caliber — the same size taken by the gun found in Willis’ possession.
Ballistics expert Lt. Jeff Crump testified all three bullets were loaded into the same gun. When he was given the gun confiscated from Willis’ minivan, he restored the serial number and found it belonged to Schnotala.
Willis, 48, is already serving a life sentence in a state prison for Bletsch’s murder. He may take the stand in his own defense, as he did during his last trial. In phone interviews with Target 8 earlier this year, he denied killing either woman.
Heeringa’s family doesn’t buy into the case against Willis and hasn’t been at the trial. However, Heeringa’s mother weighed in on the case again Wednesday on the Facebook page she runs that’s dedicated to finding her daughter.
Testimony in Willis’ trial is expected to resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
>>App users: Interactive timeline of Willis investigation