MI Supreme Court denies Willis’ appeal; trial set

Rebekah Blestch Jeffrey Willis
Left: A courtesy photo of Rebekah Bletsch. Right: Jeffrey Willis in a Muskegon County courtroom on May 18, 2016.

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by suspected serial killer Jeffrey Willis to dismiss one of the murder cases against him.

“On order of the Court, the application for leave to appeal the June 2, 2017 order of the Court of Appeals is considered, and it is DENIED, because we are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court,” the court order states.

Willis’ appeal claim to dismiss the Rebekah Bletsch murder case was previously denied June 2 by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Willis’ defense team claimed guards and detectives violated his constitutional rights by taking notes from his jail cell. They said the notes contained details about a separate kidnapping case where Willis claimed to be the day Bletsch was killed. The prosecutor said the jail shared the notes with investigators, but not the prosecutor’s office. The notes were potentially incriminating, but Willis never said they were for his attorney, the prosecutor said.

Court records said corrections officers searched the cell two more times and combed through envelopes marked for Willis’ attorney. The information from the envelopes wasn’t given to prosecutors, police told the prosecution “generally” about the notes on a legal pad in the cell.

Authorities say Bletsch, a 36-year-old mother from Dalton Township, was shot and killed as she jogged near her home in June 2014.

A trial in the case is slated to begin Oct. 17 and run 12 days.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Complete coverage of the Jeffrey Willis investigation

Willis, 47, of Muskegon Township, is also accused of kidnapping and killing Jessica Heeringa, who vanished from a Norton Shores gas station in April 2013. Her remains have not been found.

He was arrested in May 2016 after allegedly trying to abduct a teen girl in Fruitland Township the month prior. She escaped and it was her report that led investigators to Willis.

Trial dates have not been scheduled in either of those cases.