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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.
Prosecutors believe that Willis approached her 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 Friday, Dr. Brandy Shattuck, the forensic pathologist who conducted Bletsch’s autopsy, took the stand. Dr. Shattuck said that Bletsch suffered four gunshot wounds, one that grazed her head, and three that resulted in bullets entering her skull. Any of those three could have killed her, she said.
A retired detective who investigated the scene testified, saying that shell casings were found in different locations, leading him to believe the shooter moved and fired from different spots.
Later on, the prosecution called several witnesses related to the investigation of Heeringa’s disappearance.
The defense is arguing that Bletsch’s real killer was Kevin Bluhm, Willis’ cousin. Attorney Frederick Johnson pointed out that Bluhm had access to Willis’ van, and that he was an expert marksman. On Monday, Bluhm faced a hearing of his own in the Heeringa case, where a judge denied his motions to dismiss felony charges and lower bail.
Monday, the 16-year-old whose kidnapping claim broke the Bletsch case wide open is expected to testify in court.
Stay with LawNewz.com and the LawNewz Network for continuing coverage of the case.
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