Please note the most recent info is at the top of this article. Go towards the bottom of the article to Previous story to start from the beginning.
UPDATE: In May 16, 2018, the jury found Willis guilty of Heeringa’s kidnapping and murder. He received a life sentence without parole. Herringa’s body has not been found.
UPDATE: On November 27, 2017, Bluhm pleaded no contest to having been an accessory after the fact by helping Willis dispose of Heeringa’s body. He was sentenced to time served plus five years’ probation.
UPDATE: On November 2, 2017, Willis was found guilty of the 2014 murder of Rebekah Sue Bletsch and he received the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
UPDATE: 9/20/16 – Willis was charged with murder on Tuesday. He entered a not guilty plea.
UPDATE 8/28/16 –According to WSJM news, Kevin Bluhm, 47, has pleaded guilty to lying to police about the disappearance of Jessica. Bluhm is the cousin of Jeffrey Willis, Bluhm told police Willis was responsible, but later told police he made it up. He will be sentenced in September.
UPDATE 6/17/16 – WOOD-TV reports the police went to Jeffrey Willis’ home and searched an abandoned rail bed for the body of Jessica. Nothing was found.
UPDATE 5/21/16 – Has the case of missing Jessica Herringa been solved? Well, according to Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler, it has. Yesterday he told News Channel 10: “The development in that case have led us in the direction to potentially close two other very serious cases, being the Rebekah Bletsch murder (Rebekah was shot and killed while she was jogging near her home on Automobile Road in Dalton Township), a Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office case, and the Jessica Heeringa case out of Norton Shores.”
Law enforcement will rarely make statements like this unless they are sure, and there must be much more that the police know they have not let out to the public at this time.
Jeffrey Thomas Willis was arrested while driving home from his third-shift job at Herman Miller Inc. Spring Lake Township facility on Hickory Street in May 17, said Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler. At Willis’ arraigment hearing on Friday the prosecution stated that his silver Dodge Caravan contained several items. The court document reads: “They located in one locked box handcuffs, chains, rope, five syringes, one with liquid, photographs of females chained and bound, a mask, rubber gloves, batting gloves, a bar with wrist restraints, ball gag. In a separate locked box they located a 22 caliber semi-automatic pistol with the serial numbers destroyed.A search warrant conducted at Mr. Thomas’s (sic) residence, detectives located on computers, ——was a—— it’s a thumb drive, images of child pornography, also videos of woman bound, taped and gagged.”
Is it possible in one of the photographs is Jessica and that is why the Muskegon Sheriff is saying Jessica’s case is “potentially” closed?
Will there be other cases that will be tied back to Willis?
UPDATE 5/18/16 – The police are searching a home belonging to Pam Willis who is related to Jeffrey Willis, 46, that was arrested on May 17, for an attempted abduction of a teen girl in April. Willis lives in the 1800 block of S. Sheridan Drive in Muskegon Township. WZZM is reporting that a neighbor called the Jessica Hearing tip line after news broke of Willis’ arrest. The police showed up today and are searching the home on the 3000 block of Bailey Street. The abandoned home apparently had belonged to Willis’ deceased grandfather who passed away in 2011, and Willis was known to frequent there. The police have not stated the search is related to the Hearing case.
Update 4/7/16 – Jessica’s case will be shown on Disappeared on the Investigative Discovery channel on Monday.
Brad Mason as being a possible person that had to do with Jessica’s disappearance is a name that comes up frequently. The family expresses they hear this all the time, but according to the family, there is no connection. When someone posts the connection between Brad and Jessica, the Find Jessica Heeringa Facebook page posted:
Also, the last I read the police to not consider him a person of interest.
Lt. Kasher the detective assigned to stated in October 2015 that he executed a search warrant at Mason’s home and nothing resulted.
UPDATE 7/16/14 – Jessica’s fiance, Dakotah Wakan Quail-Dyer, 30, was arraigned in Muskegon County 60th District Court Thursday, June 19, on three counts of controlled substance delivery/manufacturing, marijuana, a felony. A judge set a $20,000 cash or surety bond for each charge. Dakotah is also the father of Jessica’s son, Zevyn. He has had permanent custody of Zevyn as of May 29, but today Jessica’s sister, Samantha Heeringa, who was granted visitation rights, is asking for temporary custody of him. According to WZZM news, Samantha’s petition for temporary custody states the boy is staying with Dakotah’s father and step-mother, neither of whom have custodial or guardian rights over the child.
|Dakotah Wakan Quail-Dyer|
According to court documents, he is accused of the drug activity in March and was arrested on June 18 by the Michigan State Police.
The Norton Police Department has released a timeline on April 26, 2013. What you will notice is there is a lot of silver van’s mentioned. Are they all different or the same?
2:44 p.m.: Heeringa purchased groceries at Aldi, 2715 Henry St.
4:35 p.m.: Heeringa begins her shift at the Exxon store. She was aware the store did not have video cameras, as she had advised customers of this and the fact she was working alone. She was not worried about the lack of cameras. It was not uncommon for Heeringa to prop open the rear door and turn off the store’s rear security light so she could smoke cigarettes behind the store or allow friends to enter via the rear door, according to police.
7:30 – 8:15 p.m.: A man who told police he was Heeringa’s boyfriend at the time (*Not to be confused with her fiance, Dakotah Quail-Dyer) arrived at the Exxon station in a work vehicle, a silver full-size van. The two reportedly had a discussion regarding their alleged relationship. A customer advised that Heeringa appeared to be upset after the conversation with the male subject.
7:40 – 8:50 p.m.: A female friend entered the store through the front door to visit Heeringa. Nothing suspicious was noticed at that time. Both the female friend and a male customer observed a bluish silver van pull up to Heeringa while she was changing the receipt paper in one of the pumps. It appeared that the male driver and Heeringa were having a friendly conversation.
10:55 p.m.: A female customer entered the store and purchased a lighter. She advised that Heeringa was alone in the store and did not appear to be nervous or distressed. The customer did not see anyone in the store or in the parking lot.
11 p.m.: An Exxon manager and her husband were riding their motorcycles eastbound on Sternberg Road. She saw a silver minivan slowly enter the north drive of the Exxon station from the service drive of the Pointes Mall. The van drove behind the Exxon station, did a u-turn and extinguished its headlights as it pulled behind the store facing west.The manager suspected Heeringa may be in the process of stealing from Exxon, so she turned around on Harvey Street to return to the store. The manager and her husband drove to the Pointes Mall, west of the Exxon station, and parked in the lot with a view of the north and west sides of the Exxon station. The minivan was parked on the north side of the Exxon station. There were no other vehicles in the lot except for Hearing’s. The manager saw a figure standing at the rear of the van and noticed the van’s rear hatch was open. The figure shut the rear hatch and quickly opened it again. It appeared as though the figure was adjusting something in the rear of the van, and then closed the hatch again. She noted that the person’s head was just above the roof of the van.The person then walked to the driver’s door, got into the van and began driving westbound on the service drive. The manager said the store’s rear security light was not on and the store’s rear door did not open at any time. She never saw a struggle or heard anyone yell for help. She did not see Heeringa outside of the store. As the van drove closer to their location in the parking lot, the manager and her husband started their motorcycles and pulled up to the service drive. As the van passed, she looked at the driver, a male subject wearing a red or orange sweatshirt. Her husband stated that he did not see the subject well, but did see that he had “crazy” or wavy hair. Neither of them saw Heeringa or anyone else in the van. The manager and her husband pulled onto the service drive and followed the van until it stopped at Grand Haven Road. The manager’s husband stated that he was positive the van was a Chrysler Town and Country van, silver in color, as it was the same type a relative owned (Note: This vehicle was located and was in Traverse City at the time of the abduction). He clearly remembered the Town and Country logo on the rear hatch door. Neither obtained the license plate number, as they had no reason to believe a crime had occurred. The van turned northbound on Grand Haven Road, while the manager and her husband turned southbound on Grand Haven Road and went home.
11:02 p.m: Surveillance video from inside of a closed store in the Pointes Mall captured a silver minivan turning northbound onto Grand Haven Road.
11:03 p.m: Surveillance video from the Homestead Tavern captured a silver minivan driving northbound on Grand Haven Road.
11:05 p.m: Surveillance video from the Coin Zone captured a silver minivan driving northbound on Grand Haven Road.
11:10 p.m: A male customer arrived at the gas station, pulled up to the pump and attempted to purchase gasoline. He was unable to do so as the pump would not activate. When the pump did not activate, he entered the store believing that the clerk may have been in the back room and not aware of his presence at the pump. He was unable to locate Heeringa. Upon exiting the store, he spoke with a female customer and called 911.
11:15 p.m.: Patrol units are dispatched to Exxon, 1196 E Sternberg Road, Norton Shores, regarding a suspicious situation.
11:25 p.m.: The first officer arrives and begins investigation. Officers searched the store but did not locate Heeringa. Officers located Heeringa’s purse and jacket in the back room. The purse contained $420 in cash. Officers noted that nothing inside the store indicated a struggle. There was nothing that appeared to be disturbed. Officers exited the rear door and noted that the door did not have a handle on the outside. Officers located items of possible evidence outside the rear door, including what appeared to be a 2-inch by 3-inch blood stain on the concrete, later determined to be Heeringa’s. Officers photographed the interior and exterior of the store and evidence items prior to collection. Officers collected a sample of the possible blood stain and packaged the other evidence items.
11.38 p.m.: Exxon owner was contacted regarding the open store. He in turn contacted the day-shift manager to respond as she lives closer to the store.
11:50 p.m.: The day-shift manager arrives at the Exxon station and provides officers with her observations of the silver minivan and its driver. The manager advised that the cash drawer was “counted down” for the next shift, indicating Heeringa was preparing to close the store. While talking to officers, the manager observed the man claiming to be Heeringa’s boyfriend drive past the store in a work vehicle. He was contacted to come to the Exxon station and was questioned by officers.
12:38 a.m.: A K-9 team requested to search area. A search of the area north and east of the store was conducted with no results.
UPDATE 6/3/13 – The Norton Shores Police are squelching the rumor started on social media that stated Jessica has been found. She is still missing.
DNA testing showed a small amount of blood found outside the gas station belonged to Heeringa, Norton Shores police Chief Daniel Shaw said they believed she could still be alive.
UPDATE 4/29/13 – The Norton Shores Police Department has surveillance video of the suspect’s van in the missing mom case the night of the abduction at 11:15 p.m. Friday night and it is believe to be a silver Chrysler mini-van town and country.
From the 911 call:
Dispatcher: Muskegon 911. Where is your emergency?
Caller: 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. 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?
Caller: Yeah, I hollered ‘hey’ and walked around the building. I don’t know.
Dispatcher: It’s still open, right?
Caller: Yeah, when you walk in, the bell goes ding, ding, ding. The cashier is supposed to be there, but I don’t see anyone.
Caller: It just seems strange. I come here after work. I come here all the time for gas.
Caller: I’d hate to see anyone come in and grab and run, you know.
Dispatcher: If you feel comfortable staying there, I do have an officer notified.
Caller: I’m just concerned that somebody’s hurt.
Wow, have you heard the gas station owner talk when he is on the news. He comes across unbelievable and aggressive. Supposedly, LE asked him to install cameras at the gas station and he never did, although in all fairness he told WOOD-TV “That never happened.”
|Police sketch of subject and photo of
owner of gas station. The police later asked the media to stop circulating the sketch.
Shelly told WOOD TV that “He only had like $3,000 worth of drive-offs on gas, so he didn’t think it was worth putting in a $5,000 security system.”
People are also talking about the fact he may have put up a craigslist ad for someone to replace Jessica within 24 hours after she went missing. .
“CUSTOMER SERVICE/ CASHIER PART TIME (NORTON SHORES)
AREA GAS/CONV STORE LOOKING FOR AN EVENING AND WEEKEND PERSON”
No confirmation that this was posted by the owner of the gas station.
Shelly talks about her daughter and how she thinks she went to help someone that asked for help, which is a good theory as this is the most common way that women get abducted, as they do respond when someone asks them for help.
Dakota Quail-Dyer, Jessica’s fiance and the father of her son, told 24 Hour News 8 Saturday that he talked to her an hour before she disappeared. He said she was looking forward to coming home.
UPDATE 4/29/13 – The town is pulling together for Jessica. “Candlelight vigil is scheduled for Tuesday night at 6pm. Hal Pearson will lead us in a prayer for Jessica’s safe return. Location is at the Points Mall on Sternburg by the Exxon gas station.”
UPDATE: 4/28/13 – Shelly Heeringa, Jessica’s mom is passing out fliers at the Exxon.
“I’m doing better today than I was yesterday. It feels good to be out,” Shelly Heeringa said. “Yesterday, I didn’t want to do anything. This scenario kept playing in my mind, so it’s good to be out here and see support.”
A few people have shown up to pick up fliers and spread the word, but more needs to be done. More support is needed for Shelly. Please show your support and stand by Shelly as she passes out flyer’s and help keep Jessica’s story out in the media. Please join Shelly, and lend your support even if it’s only for a few hours.
The Norton Shores Police Dept. have confirmed that there were no security cameras operating at the gas station at the time of the alleged abduction, reports Michigan Live.
Derek Antol said he is offering $500 for any information that would lead up to an arrest.
“I would hope if it was my kid people would show up here to support me,” Antol added. “I am very surprised that people aren’t here.”
Come on Muskegon, give Shelly support.
Previous story: An employee that worked at the Exxon Mobil gas station in Norton Shores went missing during her shift on Friday night.
Jessica Heeringa, 25, from Muskegon, Mich. made a transaction on the register at the Exxon station on 1196 E. Sternberg Road in Norton Shores, Mich around 10:55 p.m. on April 26. When a customer entered the station short after there was no one there. The customer called 911 at 11:15. According to the Exxon Stations website, the Sternberg Exxon is open till 11:30 p.m. on Friday nights.
Authorities called her family and friends and no one had seen her. By Saturday afternoon she still had not been located, reports Michigan Live.
Jessica left her belongings behind at the station at the family is afraid she may have been kidnapped.
“My beautiful granddaughter was kidnapped from her place of employment last night in Muskegon. Please, please help us find her,” posted Diane Homrich on Facebook. “We need to find her, she has a little boy who needs her. Please help.”
Jessica is 5’1″ tall, 110 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. She sometimes wears wired rim glasses. She may be wearing a blue-collared shirt with “Sternberg Exxon” on it.
If you know her whereabouts or were at the Exxon Friday evening, please contact the Silent Observer at 231-72-7463.