Police: Jeffrey Willis now ‘person of interest’ in Jessica Heeringa case

Posted at 4:18 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 22:41:26-04

NORTON SHORES, Mich. — The Norton Shores Police Department says attempted abduction suspect Jeffrey Willis is now being considered a "person of interest" in the 2013 disappearance of Jessica Heeringa.

"Investigators have been working around the clock and have now upgraded Willis as a person of interest in this case," a Monday release from Norton Shores Police said.  "Investigators are interviewing known associates of Willis trying to determine the connections to Jessica."

Jeffrey Willis

Jeffrey Willis

Willis was charged May 18 in connection with the April attempted abduction of a 16-year-old girl.  He is charged with one count of kidnapping, one count of assault with a dangerous weapon and two counts of felony firearms.

Investigators previously said they haven't found a direct connection between Willis and the Heeringa case.

Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said at Willis' arraignment that investigators had found syringes with sedatives and handcuffs in the van that Willis owned and was allegedly driving at the time of the attempted abduction.

Heeringa was last seen on the night of April 26, 2013, working alone at the Exxon gas station on Sternberg Road in Norton Shores just before closing.

Investigators in Muskegon County are also looking in whether Willis has any possible connection to the 2014 killing of Rebekah Bletsch, who was found shot in the head on the side of the road in Dalton Township.

The Associated Press contributed to this report