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Man investigated for Jessica Heeringa case now charged with another woman's murder

Jeffrey Willis charged in Rebekah Bletsch's shooting death

A western Michigan man accused of abducting a 16-year-old girl last month has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a 36-year-old woman in 2014.

The Muskegon County prosecutor's office announced the charge Wednesday against 46-year-old Jeffrey Willis, of Muskegon Township, in the death of Rebekah Bletsch. 

Authorities also said Willis is being investigated in the 2013 disappearance of then-25-year-old Jessica Heeringa. The prosecutor would not take any questions about the Heeringa case during Wednesday's news conference (watch here). Norton Shores police announced earlier this week Willis is considered a person of interest in Heeringa's disappearance. 

Willis had been under investigation in Bletsch's death since he was charged in April with kidnapping and other crimes in an incident involving a girl in Muskegon County's Fruitland Township. She told investigators that she jumped out of Willis' van to escape.

"I think she's a hero," said Muskegon County Prosecutor DJ Hilson. "I think her bravery and her courage led us down this path and she probably doesn't realize what kind of a hero she really is."

Hilson also called Willis a "sick" person when asked about a possible motive.

Willis is being held on $1 million bond. The public defender's office, which is representing Willis, told the Associated Press it doesn't comment on pending cases.

Heeringa missing since April 2013

Heeringa, a gas station clerk, went missing April 26, 2013 right before she was set to close the Exxon Mobile station on Sternberg Road in Norton Shores, near Muskegon.

Back in 2013, police said Heeringa, 25, may have known her abductor because there was no sign of a struggle. However, tests done on blood droplets found at the gas station came back positive for Heeringa's blood.


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