The murder trial of Jeffrey Willis continues in Muskegon County, Michigan. Willis is accused of killing Rebekah Bletsch on June 29, 2014. Bletsch was found on the side of the road by a couple who thought she had been hit by a car. When they tried to resuscitate her, they realized she had multiple gunshot wounds to the head. Court is expected to continue at 9:30 am ET. Due to errors by a local cameraman who accidentally showed the face of an underage witness as well as members of the jury, Judge William Marietti ordered that video of the trial be shut down until he decides otherwise. In the meantime, listen here.
Prosecutors believe that Willis approached Bletsch with the intent to sexually assault and kill her, and then shot her. Police and Bletsch’s family said that Willis may have shot her when she resisted his attempt to assault her.
The investigation of Willis didn’t start until nearly two years after Bletsch’s death. In April 2016, a teenage girl told police that a man in a silver van abducted her, but she escaped. The kidnapper allegedly offered to let her use his cell phone in his van while she was walking home at night, but when she got inside, he started driving and didn’t give her the phone. She then jumped out of the moving vehicle and reported the incident. While investigating Willis’ property in connection with the kidnapping, police found the evidence connecting him to Bletsch. That evidence included a gun in Wills’ van that matched shell casings and bullets that had been collected during the investigation of Bletsch’s death.
In addition to the gun, investigators also found files related to Bletsch on Willis’ computer, labeled with Bletsch’s initials, in a folder titled “VICS.” Police believe VICS is short for victims. Also on the computer were similar files that police say had to do with another woman who disappeared in 2013, Jessica Heeringa. Willis stands to face a separate trial for Heeringa’s murder and the kidnapping of the teenager.
On Tuesday, the teenage girl who claims Willis tried to kidnap her took the stand. She gave a detailed account of what happened when she was walking home from a party early one morning and was lost, only for a man she identified as Willis to pull up and offer to let her use his phone, on the condition she get in his van. Once in the vehicle, she said, Willis drove off, and didn’t let her use the phone.
She described how she then saw him pull out a gun, at which point she opened the door, jumped out of the moving vehicle, and ran away. Prosecutors showed the court images of the significant bruising she had all over her body as a result.
Stay with LawNewz.com and the LawNewz Network for continuing coverage of the case.