MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Jeffrey Willis’ defense team wants his preliminary hearing in the murder case of Jessica Heeringa to be held behind closed doors.
Wednesday, the defense filed a a motion for a closed preliminary exam. Willis’ attorneys say the Muskegon County case has received too much local and national media attention and they want some of the court proceedings to be held without news cameras present.
The motion will be discussed on Oct. 19. The hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.
Willis, 46, of Muskegon Township, is accused of murdering both Heeringa, 25, in April 2013 and 36-year-old Rebekah Bletsch in June 2014, as well as the attempted abduction of a 16-year-old girl in April of this year. The teen was able to escape, and it was her report that led investigators to Willis. He was arrested in May.
According to court documents, Willis’ cousin, Kevin Bluhm, admitted to investigators that he saw Heeringa’s body the day after she was abducted from the Norton Shores gas station where she worked and that Willis told him he had tortured her.
Authorities say Bluhm helped Willis bury Heeringa’s body in a wooded area in Muskegon Township less than a mile from Willis’ home. However, Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson told 24 Hour News 8 investigators think Heeringa’s remains have since been moved to an unknown location.
The search for her body continues.