Four years later, question remains: Where is Jessica Heeringa?

Muskegon County
generic jessica heeringa_230907

NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — Wednesday marks a somber anniversary for one of West Michigan’s most high profile missing person cases: the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa.

Even though Jeffrey Willis is in jail and charged with kidnapping and murdering Heeringa, many questions remain. Investigators say Jessica was murdered, but they haven’t found her body.

Heeringa was working at a gas station on Sternberg Road in Norton Shores when she disappeared on April 26, 2013. The last customer saw her at 10:51 p.m. The customer told police Heeringa was alone in the store but did not appear distressed. The patron didn’t see anyone in the parking lot at the time.

Around 11 p.m., the gas station manager and her husband said they rode by and saw a silver minivan stop at the rear of the gas station. They said someone opened the van’s rear hatch, adjusted something, then closed it before driving away. Surveillance video at a nearby store showed a silver minivan turning north onto Grand Haven Road.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Timeline of Jessica Heeringa’s disappearance | Complete coverage of the Jeffrey Willis investigation

About seven minutes later, a customer arrived to pump gas but found no one at the station. Officers called to the scene

found Jessica’s purse and coat and the cash drawer in the gas station’s backroom. At the back door, they found a blood stain and what appeared to be a batter cover to a laser sight to a gun.

Investigators didn’t get a major break in the case until about three years later, when a man in a silver man allegedly tried to abduct a teenager on her way home from a party. The teen’s detailed description of the vehicle and its driver led authorities to Willis.

Detectives said the laser sight battery cover recovered at the scene of Heeringa’s disappearance matched the type of gun owned by Willis.

Willis faces charges in the teen’s abduction and the 2014 murder of Rebekah Bletsch, who was shot while jogging in 2014. His trial in the Bletsch case is scheduled for June.

Willis’ cousin, Kevin Bluhm, told police he helped Willis bury Jessica’s body, but later recanted his story. Authorities think he was telling the truth originally and he was eventually charged with being an accessory to Heeringa’s kidnapping and murder.

Wednesday, a Facebook page dedicated to finding Heeringa posted the following message:

“Today marks 4 years since Jessica was ripped from her family. She was taken from a family that truly loves her. Taken from a little boy, that (sic) need his Mommy. Her family has had to endure the worst of the worst. The only thing in their lives that hasn’t changed is their love for Jess, and their hope to bring her home.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

24 Hour News 8 Links