Name: Jessica Lynn Heeringa
Age: 25 years old
Last seen: April 26, 2013
Location: Norton Shores, Michigan
Status: Still missing, but presumed deceased
Disappeared: Season 7 Episode 1 “Somebody’s Watching”
25 year old Jessica Heeringa was last seen near Norton Shores, Michigan on April 26, 2013.
She disappeared while working a night shift at the Exxon Mobile gas station in the 1100 block of east Sternberg Road before closing time. Jessica has never been seen or heard from again.
Jessica Heeringa was born on July 16, 1987 to parents Pete Kenkins and Shelly Heeringa. She was the youngest of three daughters, and lived with her father and stepmother from age 12 to 17.
At the time of her disappearance, she was a single mother raising her three-year-old son in Muskegon, Michigan where she worked as a clerk at the Exxon Mobile station in Norton Shores.
On the evening of April 26, 2013, Heeringa was working a late shift alone at the Exxon Mobile gas station in the 1100 block of east Sternberg Road in Norton Shores, Michigan.
Around 11:07 pm, a customer discovered the store abandoned and called 911. When police arrived at 11:25 pm, they found the store unlocked.
They found Jessica’s packet of cigarettes and lighter next to the cash register, and all of her personal belongings and money were left at the store.
Her last cash register transaction took place at 10:51 pm, so it is believed Jessica disappeared sometime between 10:51 and 11:07 p.m that night, shortly before the store’s closing time.
Within hours, police classified Jessica’s disappearance as a kidnapping. Inside the gas station they found Jessica’s coat, purse, keys, ID and $420 in cash left behind. Her car was also found parked outside.
Investigators found no indications of a struggle, and no money was missing from the cash register in the store, but they did discover a small blood stain on the ground outside the back door, later determined to be Jessica’s.
A regular customer of the gas station reported witnessing a suspicious man flirting with Jessica at the station shortly before her disappearance. He was described as a white male in his thirties, about 6’0 tall with a medium to heavy set build. He had wavy, sandy brown or blond hair, and was wearing a bright red or orange sweatshirt.
The gas station manager and her husband also reported seeing a silver minivan parked behind the gas station the night of April 26. The couple were on motorcycles passing by when they saw a male driving a van around the back of the station around 10:50 p.m.
Security camera footage from Sodini Blueberry Farm, located a mile away from the gas station, captured a silver minivan driving by at 11:04 p.m., around the time Jessica went missing.
Arrest of Jeffrey Thomas Willis
In April 2016, Jeffrey Thomas Willis, a resident of Muskegon Township, Michigan, was arrested and charged with attempting to abduct sixteen-year-old Madison Nygard. The teenage girl was able to escape from his moving van in Muskegon County and reported the incident to the police.
In May 2016, Jeffrey Willis was also charged with the murder of 36-year-old Rebekah Sue Bletsch. She was shot to death while jogging in Dalton Township, Michigan in June 2014.
At the time, authorities identified Willis as a person of interest in Jessica’s disappearance. He owned a silver minivan, which also was the vehicle described by a witness in Heeringa’s disappearance
In his silver 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan, police found a tool box containing handcuffs, a ball gag, chains and ropes. A second lock box under the driver’s seat contained a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol with the serial number filed off, ammunition, five syringes and some pills.
In September of 2016, Jeffrey Willis was charged with the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Heeringa. Investigators discovered that pieces of a gun laser sight found outside the Exxon station, where Jessica had been working at the time of her disappearance, matched the one uncovered in Willis’ silver minivan.
Upon searching his credit card history, investigators discovered Willis had visited the store at least fifteen times prior to Jessica’s disappearance. His phone record also put Willis close to the store at the time of her disappearance, near his late grandfather’s empty house in the 3000 block of Baily Street in Norton Shores.
Investigators believe Jessica Heeringa was lured out the back door of the station when Jeffrey Willis struck her on the head, breaking the gun in the process, and then driving her to the empty house on Bailey Street.
In a computer hard drive at his home investigators found thousands of videos depicting violence, bondage pornography, child pornography and necrophilia. Videotapes containing undressed underage girls captured without their knowledge were also found.
On May 16, 2018, Jeffrey Willis was convicted to a life sentence in the premeditated kidnapping and murder of Jessica Heeringa. The decision was made by the jury after an hour of deliberation, and was based solely on circumstantial evidence. There was no DNA or other physical evidence connecting Willis to Jessica.
In September 2021 prosecutors requested that the silver minivan belonging to Jeffrey Willis be demolished citing high storage fees.
After a conviction, property used as evidence is usually sold at auction, however in this case they don’t want that van being used again.
Kevin Lavern Bluhm’s testimony
In May 2016, investigators questioned Willis’s cousin, Kevin Lavern Bluhm, a corrections officer. At first, he claimed he hadn’t seen his cousin for almost a year and had never seen him with a handgun.
Bluhm later confessed to police that Willis forced him to help dispose of Jessica Heeringa’s body at their grandfather’s house in late April 2013. He recounted seeing a blonde female, who was laying face-down in the basement, unclothed with her hands tied. The body reportedly had wounds on the head and injuries consistent with sexual assault.
Bluhm claimed they later drove to an area off Sheridan, north of Laketon Road, to bury Jessica Heeringa’s wrapped body in a hole that had already been dug by Jeffrey Willis. An extensive search of the area was conducted by the police, but no sign of Jessica Heeringa was found.
At the end of the second interview, Bluhm recanted his statement and said he had made the whole story up. He was charged with obstruction for allegedly lying to police in their investigation into Willis’s suspected crimes, including Heeringa’s disappearance.
On January 9, 2018, Kevin Lavern Bluhm was convicted of being an accessory after the fact in the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Heeringa. He was sentenced to 476 days that he had already served since Sept. 20, 2016. Bluhm was also ordered to a maximum of five years probation, and was ordered to wear a GPS monitor for a year.
On December 9, 2013, the Jessica Heeringa Act was presented by the Michigan House of Representatives, as requested by Heeringa’s parents.
It would require gas stations and convenience stores that are open between the hours of 11:00 pm and 5:00 am to install and maintain a security camera system, or to have at least two employees on shift during these hours.
A $26,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to Jessica’s location. Jessica Lynn Heeringa’s body has never been recovered, and the case is still ongoing.
Caucasian female born on July 16, 1987 with blonde hair and blue eyes. Jessica stands 5’1″ tall, and weighs 105 pounds. She was 25 years old when she went missing.
Jessica has several tattoos over her body: A sun and moon on her right calf, sleeping Z’s on her left foot, a star on her back and a musical note and a peace sign on her left ankle.
She was last known to be wearing wire-rim glasses and a blue collared shirt with “Sternberg Exxon” on it.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa please contact the Norton Shores Police (231) 733-2691 or call the family tip line (231) 222-0278.
Resources & Further Information
News & Media Links
Body found in lake doesn’t match description of missing Michigan mom, police say – CBS News 06/13
Jessica Heeringa disappeared two years ago today – Detroit Free Press 04/15
Kidnapping suspect charged in 2014 death of jogger – Detroit Free Press 05/16
Teen’s daring escape may help solve 2 cold cases – Detroit Free Press 05/16
How a botched kidnapping led to clues in 3 crimes – Detroit Free Press 05/16
Kidnap suspect eyed in one cold case, charged in another – CBS News 05/16
New lead triggers search for body of Jessica Heeringa – Detroit Free Press 06/16
New documents reveal more details in Heeringa case – Fox 17 News 07/16
Prosecutor: “Monster” charged in killing of Michigan woman – CBS News 09/16
Man claims to have spotted Heeringa in cousin’s basement – News 09/16
Willis’ phone records, cousin’s interview lead to charges in Heeringa murder – Fox 17 News 09/16
How investigators broke the Jeffrey Willis case – Michigan Live 04/17
Kevin Bluhm walks free for his role in Jessica Heeringa’s murder – Michigan Live 01/18
Jeffrey Willis found guilty of kidnapping, murdering Jessica Heeringa – Michigan Live 05/18
Woman cries while testifying about seeing Jessica Heeringa’s alleged abduction – Michigan Live 01/19
Jessica Heeringa’s mother: Security cameras required in bill would have prevented daughter’s disappearance – Michigan Live 01/19
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