MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — In a file titled “VICS” on one of Jeffrey Willis’ hard drives, there was a folder labeled with Jessica Heeringa’s name, a source close to the investigation told 24 Hour News 8 on Wednesday afternoon.
The existence of the “VICS” — short for “victims” — file was made public in court earlier Wednesday during Willis’s preliminary hearing in the murder case of Rebekah Bletsch. Also in the file was a folder labeled “RSB” — Bletsch’s initials — and a code that worked out to the date of her murder. The folder contained photos of Bletsch, photos of a woman who looked similar to her on a bed wearing only underwear and wanted posters in the Bletsch case.
24 Hour News 8 is still working to learn what was in the Jessica Heeringa folder.
MSP: INVESTIGATORS THINK WILLIS KILLED HEERINGA
Also Wednesday, 24 Hour News 8 obtained a Michigan State Police report that states “investigators believe Jessica was murdered by Jeffrey Willis, but her body has not been located to date.”
Willis has been named a person of interest in the Heeringa case; authorities have so far not called him a suspect. A police source told 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday investigators don’t have enough evidence to charge him. A law enforcement source also said Wednesday there is no doubt in their mind that Willis abducted Heeringa.
The MSP report, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, said police searched a property in Mancelona — that’s in Antrim County in northern Michigan — in connection to the Heeringa case.
The property is owned by Norton Shores Police Office Shawn Stefanich. Willis, who was friends with Stefanich and called him just after his May arrest, also has a key to the cabin on that property because he would go snowmobiling there.
MSP says the search happened on May 20, a few days after Willis was arrested. Officers searched the cabin and brought in a cadaver dog to search the property, but didn’t seize any evidence of a crime.
On a property across the street that is owned by someone else, police also searched a dry well filled with dirt and trash. Nothing was found.
A neighbor reported having seen Willis and his minivan at the cabin. Another neighbor said they saw Willis walking out of the woods with a shovel, but the first neighbor questioned whether that was a reliable statement.
Authorities have also searched other properties for Heeringa in recent weeks and so far have come up with nothing.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN HEERINGA CASE AND WILLIS INVESTIGATION
Police say Heeringa was abducted from her job at the Sternberg Road gas station in Norton shores on the night of April 26, 2013.
Investigators have had little to go on as the search for her — only a composite sketch and a few surveillance images of a silver minivan that may have been seen at the gas station the night she vanished. The gas station itself didn’t have surveillance cameras; the images police have were taken from businesses not far from the gas station.
Willis owns a silver minivan similar to the one police were searching for; his co-workers said he frequented her gas station, which is between his Muskegon Township home and workplace in Spring Lake; and a source said he wasn’t at work in the days after police say she was abducted.
His cousin, Kevin Bluhm, was charged this week with lying to police in the Bletsch murder investigation and also in connection to Willis’ alleged involvement in Heeringa’s disappearance.
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