Norton Shores officials send info on Heeringa disappearance to investigators in Indiana serial killer case

Posted at 9:17 PM, Oct 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-20 23:18:17-04

NORTON SHORES, Mich. -- The discovery of seven women's bodies in Gary, Ind., is prompting the Norton Shores Police Department to contact investigators in that case and make them aware of the continued search for Jessica Heeringa.

It's been nearly a year and a half since Heeringa, who was 25 at the time, was abducted while working at a Norton Shores gas station.

As investigators continue examining every tip and lead, the case of a possible serial killer just 150 miles away had Norton Shores detectives looking into any possible connection.

“They’re going to tell them what Jessica was wearing, what her description is, the vehicle we were looking for, the silver minivan, those types of details in our case,” Norton Shores Police Chief Dan Shaw said.

Though the suspect in the Indiana killings, Darren Deon Vann, was reportedly behind bars when Heeringa disappeared, officials say they're exploring every lead. Norton Shores investigators have called other agencies for possible connections to the Heeringa case roughly once a month since she disappeared.

“This is basic police procedure,” Shaw said. “But our scope is going to get much larger with a missing persons case like Jessica`s case, so we are going to reach out several states away to find out if there are any other connections.”

Norton Shores officials have reached out as far as Oregon, letting investigators know Heeringa’s DNA is on file.

“That data is entered into a database that’s available nationwide for any missing persons cases,” Shaw said. “It's also been entered into the violent crimes as well.”

Shaw says they've been perusing leads where Heeringa’s picture has been falsely used online, along with false tips and, most recently, a false confession.

“We still deal with the false tip information. We’ve had people admit that they were involved in the case, and we've had to follow-up on and find that it’s not true,” he said.

There's still one detective in Norton Shores working full-time on the search for Heeringa, as the task force created in the search continues to communicate ,all while information and leads begin to slow down.

“It`s definitely trickled down, but we still do get a lot of information, but unfortunately a lot of it is false,” Shaw said.

If you have any information on the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa call Silent Observer at 231-72-CRIME.