Willis’ ex-wife testifies in Heeringa murder case

Posted at 2:04 PM, May 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-11 21:27:15-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. - The murder trial of Jeffrey Willis resumed Friday afternoon with a Michigan State Police digital forensics expert describing the "thousands" of videos including extreme pornography then rape and murder videos found on Willis' hard drives.

Willis is accused of kidnapping and murdering Jessica Heeringa, a Norton Shores Exxon Mobil gas station clerk and young mother, who was working alone when she disappeared April 26, 2013.  She has not been found.

Friday's testimony began with MSP Digital Forensics Analyst Gerald McCarthy describing the computer and hard drive found at Willis' home after he was arrested in 2016 for allegedly abducting a 16-year-old girl, MJN.  He testified that there were  "thousands and thousands and thousands" of murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, rape, capture and killing videos that were extremely graphic on Willis' hard drives, as well as pornography.

McCarthy classified theses videos found on Willis' hard drives as "torture, rape, kill" pornography, and some as footage of actual women's murders. Most of the victims were white blonde-haired females in their twenties.

McCarthy also testified that there was a folder on Willis' computer labeled "homemade." In the folder were photos and videos including night videos taken from a vehicle of unsuspecting people in a parking lot, and of Willis' former neighbors: girls undressing, filmed through their bedroom window.  There was another folder containing approximately 15,000 videos taken with different cameras of girls' swim meets from high schools in Muskegon, Kent and Ottawa counties.  Subfolders included the initials of the schools. McCarthy testified the videos focused on the girls' genital areas.

Another folder on the hard drive was listed as "VICS" and had subfolders "JLH" and "RSB".  The prosecution believes JLH referred to Jessica Lynn Heeringa and RSB to Rebekah Sue Bletsch. Within the each folder were public photos of Jessica Heeringa and Rebekah Bletsch, respectively, along with photos of women who looked similar to each woman.

Later Friday afternoon, Charlene Bishop took the stand. Bishop was married to Willis for 13 years, including in 2013, when Heeringa disappeared.  She began testifying that Willis looks drastically different than he did in 2013. He has lost a lot of weight and didn't always have a beard. Bishop says she remembered Willis getting blonde highlights in 2013.

Bishop also testified that she's diabetic, but since about 2005 she's relied on her insulin pump rather than syringes, but keeps her insulin refrigerated to preserve it better. When asked if she knew about or provided Willis with the syringes and insulin that were kept in a box under the driver's seat of their minivan, she responded, "absolutely not."

Bishop also looked at a picture of evidence found in Willis' minivan. She looked at some of the contents that were in the tool box found beneath the floor in the van's cargo space, including: handcuffs, chains, leather restraints and ball gags. She said none of those items belonged to her, or were used between her and Willis.

Willis is already serving a sentence of life in prison for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch in 2014.  The trial will resume on Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.