Jeffrey Willis testifies in his trial for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch

Jeffrey Willis standing trial for June 2014 murder of Rebekah Bletsch

Jeffrey Willis during the seventh day of his murder trial on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, at the Muskegon County Courthouse in Muskegon, Mich. (Joel Bissell/Pool)


MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The latest in the Jeffrey Willis trial for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch:

4:15 p.m. – The defense has rested its case. The prosecution will call its rebuttal witnesses Thursday before the case finally goes to the jury.

>>App users: Listen to Jeffrey Willis’ testimony here.

The investigator points out Bluhm reset his phone the day after Jeffrey Willis was charged with Bletsch’s murder, and Bluhm had said he handled the gun used in her shooting.

However, Bluhm insists he reset his phone because there was porn on it.

“That was it. I had regular porn on there and I didn’t want to get caught with it,” he said.

“I didn’t want to be a part of it,” Bluhm says in reference to Willis.

Bluhm said he thought Bletsch was a “beautiful lady” when he met her at soccer.

“I looked her up on Facebook and stuff like that, but I would never hurt her,” Bluhm said. He said he never “hit on her” and they were just friends.

“I wouldn’t hurt her. I wouldn’t kill anybody. I’m the most honest guy in the world and I wouldn’t kill her,” he said in the transcript.

He said he would say “hi” to Bletsch on occasion at school after soccer season.

“After she died, I was so shocked,” Bluhm he said.

Bluhm later said he had saved “no more than 10” pictures of Bletsch on his phone after she died and he reset his phone because of the pictures and the porn.

Bluhm said two years after the murder, Willis told him he wanted to get rid of the gun he used to kill Bletsch.

“I told him no, I handed it back,” Bluhm said.

The investigator questions why Bluhm would show up at Willis’ house if he’s afraid of him.

“He’s trying to set me up and I said no. I handed it back. He killed those people,” Bluhm said.

“You’re a State of Michigan employee working for the Michigan Department of Corrections, you’d be the last person he’d go to, you know what I’m saying?” The investigator says.

Bluhm agreed he lied earlier when he said Willis handed him the gun to clean it.

Bluhm said Bletsch told him she lived on Automobile Road.

Bluhm said Willis tried to “lasso” Bletsch while driving and she got out of it, but fell.

4 p.m. – The court is now hearing a recitation of parts of Bluhm’s interview with police.

In the transcript, Bluhm said he handled Willis’ gun, looked at it and handed it back.

“I had no part of Becky’s or any of this,” Bluhm said in the transcript.

Bluhm said he learned about Bletsch and Heeringa’s cases through the news.

Bluhm said he knew Bletsch was shot with small .22-caliber type ammunition, and that there were marks on her body based on the media, but not what she was wearing.

In the transcript, Bluhm said he and Bletsch “crossed each others’ paths in the past” – that their children played soccer together.

Bluhm said he reset his phone on May 26 to clear out pornography.

3:30 p.m. – The prosecutor brought up the “VICS” folder on Willis’ computer, which the defendant said he created after a co-worker named Bubba told him about Bletsch’s shooting.

“I was not concerned that I was a suspect, I was making sure that I had covered, the, bases I guess, whatever, with Officer Hare,” Willis said. “I wanted to make sure they had the stuff they needed.”

Willis said he didn’t know what weapon Bletsch was shot with.

Willis’ final testimony focuses on a list of serial killers. Willis said he printed the list of serial killers, but he said he was not aware of the names of toolbox killers.

3:15 p.m. – “Your outlet, if I understand correctly is thousands upon thousands of abduction, torture, rape, kill videos, that’s your outlet,” prosecutor D.J. Hilson said to Willis.

“My outlet was porn,” Willis answered.

Willis said he did not watch “The Jogger” video, but he said he took a secret video of his co-worker and her lover they weren’t aware of, as well as video of girls swimming, with the focus on their groin area.

Willis testified he purchased the safe found under his seat. He said he got the toolbox from his grandfather’s estate sale and he put the injection site map in it. Willis said he probably touched the ball-gag that had his DNA on it, he said he never put the leather restraints on but he may have put the handcuffs on “just to see what they were like.”

Willis said his wife went to an insulin pump shortly after they got married in 2003. He said the kit with the insulin and needles under his seat was an emergency kit.

“They were all medicine, except for the gun,” said Willis.

Before a jury break, Willis testified the Viagra in his lock box was for a friend.

3 p.m. – In cross-examination, Willis said he read “several” police reports and transcripts of Bluhm’s testimony as well as listened to all of the testimony before he took the stand.

He testified no one was doing laundry at his grandfather’s home between 2012 and 2016, and he installed the padlocks on his grandfather’s home, which he had the key to.

Prosecutor D.J. Hilson brings up note found in trash can of list of items. Willis said he wrote the list.

“I wrote everything on there, including the clothes part on top,” Willis said.

Willis said MJN wanted a ride.

“I don’t know if I could say that, I left the scene of an accident,” said Willis.

“I tried to help out someone who needed a ride,” Willis said before admitting he didn’t stick around after the incident.

Willis said he heard media reports of the incident involving MJN, but agreed he didn’t do anything.

Willis said he did not lie about his whereabouts during the alleged attempted abduction involving MJN.

“I knew that I was there. And I wanted to know what they had thought or what she had said,” Willis said.

“I was being evasive,” he added.

“OK. You’re evasive, I’m lying. We’ll leave it at that,” said Prosecutor D.J. Hilson, getting some chuckles in the courtroom.

“From what I understand, you didn’t have to register it after 2013,” Willis said about the gun he had from his co-worker. He said he had a permit.

From 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. the day Rebekah Bletsch was killed, Willis said he was cutting his grass. He said his wife was home at that time.

Willis agrees he obtained the phone record in 2014, after Bletsch was killed.

“So in 2014, you’re squirelling away this phone record for a murder you didn’t commit?” Hilson asked.

“Yes, yes,” Willis eventually said.

2:35 p.m. – When asked about the computers and hard drives in his home, Willis said he never used either computer found in his living room, but the hard drives that contained thousands of graphic pornographic videos were his.

Willis said his sex life with his wife went downhill around 2010.

“I guess that was my outlet. I don’t know any other way to put it, it’s kind of embarrassing,” Willis said.

He said he only used the computer in the bedroom.

He said he created the “VICS” folders because he “didn’t trust the police.” He said he had a working list of serial killers because of talk about a serial killer in the Heeringa case.

Willis said he created the JLH folder to put his phone records and anything else in case investigators came back to him.

“I wanted to have this stuff ready for him,” Willis said.

Willis said he learned about Bletsch’s murder from a co-worker.

“I did not kill Ms. Bletsch. I wasn’t even there, I was home,” Willis said.

When questioning turned to his phone, Willis said he showed his phone to an officer, but the officer didn’t request the phone until later. At that time, Willis said his wife had taken it to church, but he eventually dropped off the phone.

“The reason I had a cellphone is because she was diabetic and she needed to get ahold of me,” Willis says. He says he didn’t even want a cellphone.

Willis said they hadn’t used the tape recorder answering machine at the time the officer called. He said they had a digital answering machine at the time the officer called.

“My wife, her memory is not the best,” Willis said.

Willis said the officer called three times to the home phone and his wife’s cellphone.

2:30 p.m. – Willis testifies that MJN’s hair began blowing from the window being down, so he rolled the passenger window up. He said when the window rolled up the locks engaged.

He testified when he slowed down to let the teen out and reached down to get the cellphone, that’s when the teen jumped out of the van. Willis said he stopped the van and got out, that’s when the the girl was running down the road, yelling “don’t shoot.”

Willis then explained why he drove away:

“I was afraid I guess. I didn’t want to get arrested,” Willis said. “I didn’t want nothing to do with it. She was acting funny… I didn’t want to be there. So I left.”

Willis testified he kept insulin in his van because his wife and niece were diabetic and his wife was “notorious” for taking showers and forgetting to put her insulin pump on.

Willis said the bleach found in the basement of his grandfather’s home was for laundry, and was left by his dead grandfather. Willis said he and his brother Larry had access to the home.

2 p.m. – The defense has turned questioning to the night Jessica Heeringa disappeared.

Willis said the van captured on surveillance video the night of Heeringa’s disappearance was not his.

Willis said he was involved in a “Magic: The Gathering” game at a sports card shop the night she disappeared. Willis said the tournament started at 5 p.m., he had gone to Mr. Quick to get his wife some food, then stopped at Sean’s to get some of the cards he needed for the tournament. He said he got to the tournament around 5 p.m. He said he bought some mints from the Exxon Mobil to get some mints right before the tournament.

Willis said he didn’t know Heeringa.

“I’d seen her, I would recognize her, I’d seen her before,” Willis said.

Willis said he was not involved in the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa.

Willis said he remembered picking up MJN on River Road heading west in the morning. He said he saw a young girl on the south side of the road.

“She just looked distraught,” he said.

Willis said he was on his way to Duck Lake State Park to “run his dogs.”

He said he turned around on Weber Road and swung into the blueberry farm to “clear some junk” off his vehicle in case she needed a ride.

“I went down and asked her if she was OK,” Willis said.

Willis said his windows were down when he pulled up.

“I asked her if she’s OK. She said, ‘No, I can’t find my home,’” Willis said.

“I asked her if she needed a ride home. And she said, ‘OK,’” he added.

Willis said she was real jittery when she got in the vehicle.

“I thought she was on drugs or something. She looked like she was on meth,” he said.

1:45 p.m. – Willis said his toolbox came from his wife’s grandfather. He said he put the sex toys in the van because he wanted to keep them from his grandson, after the boy found something.

Willis said there was no room in the shed because of materials for project his wife was working.

“That’s how it ended (up) in the van,” Willis said.

“At the time Ms. Bletsch was shot, I was working 9:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.,” Willis said. He said he worked the night she was shot. He said he was cutting the grass between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. the day she was shot.

Willis testified he called his friend, a Norton Shores officer, just after 6 p.m. from his home the day Bletsch died, but he didn’t pick up.

1:40 p.m. – “Did you kill Ms. Bletsch?” Johnson asked Willis.

“I did not,” Willis replied.

Willis testifies the softball gloves found in his vehicle with Bletsch’s DNA were Kevin Bluhm’s. Willis said he asked to borrow his Carl Walther P22 before Bletsch was killed, and that Bluhm gave it back to him in July.

1:30 p.m. – Jeffrey Willis has taken the stand in his own defense.

“I imagine that you have been waiting a long time to tell your story,” defense attorney Fred Johnson said.

“I have,” Willis answered.

During questioning, Willis testified his co-worker sold him her gun with the serial number already scratched off, and she gave him both sets of underwear found at her home.

Willis said he kept the gun in his home next to a filing cabinet and kept it with him in the van when he left town. Willis testified Bluhm knew where the gun was.

12 p.m. – In cross-examination, the prosecutor pointed out that the call made from Willis’ home phone came from a landline and the records do not say who made the call – only where the call came from.

Freres testified Bluhm went to an open house for his niece before going to the soccer tournament. Bluhm had a vehicle at the open house, as well as his wife and daughter. Freres said they all decided to meet at the Walgreens parking area, where they got into Bluhm’s vehicle to travel to the soccer tournament, to save money on parking.

Freres testified from her interviews and investigation, Bluhm never left the soccer tournament as it was underway.

When he did leave, Freres said Bluhm met his family at the Walgreens parking lot where he helped fix a relative’s vehicle issue. Freres said they all then left the Walgreens parking lot at 6 p.m. “at the very soonest,” which would put Bluhm at the murder scene at 6:40 p.m. if he traveled there directly.

Freres said investigators obtained a Little Ceasar’s receipt showing Kevin Bluhm’s wife purchased a pizza at the location on Whitehall Road at 6:24 p.m. on June 29, 2014. Freres testified Kevin Bluhm, his wife and daughter all had pizza together when they got home. She couldn’t give an exact time when that happened.

11:45 a.m. – The defense is questioning detective Lisa Freres about the timeline of Kevin Bluhm’s whereabouts the day Bletsch was killed.

Freres testified that in an interview two years after the murder, Bluhm’s family said he visited a Walgreens the day of the shooting. However, she said they could not obtain surveillance video because it did not exist two years later. She said there was no indications he made a purchase at Walgreens.

The defense presented a phone record from Vonage that showed an outgoing call from Willis’ home phone at 6:26 p.m. the day of Bletsch’s murder.

11:30 a.m. – Defense attorney Fred Johnson has begun presenting his case, which is focused on pinning Bletsch’s murder on Willis’ cousin, Kevin Bluhm.

Johnson’s first witness was Muskegon County detective Lisa Freres. She testified Bluhm was called a person of interest in the investigation because he had information about the weapon involved in Bletsch’s murder.

The defense attorney showed Freres photos taken at the soccer tournament Bluhm was reportedly at the day Bletsch was shot and killed. She circled an image of Bluhm with a 3:50 p.m. time stamp. She estimated it would take about 40 minutes to leave the event and arrive at the scene of the shooting.

>>App users: Listen to Wednesday morning’s testimony here.


MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Testimony in Jeffrey Willis’ trial for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch will continue Wednesday morning after a judge decided that some of the suspect’s cousin’s statements can be admitted as evidence.

Some of the statements by Kevin Bluhm that jurors will hear involve how he handled the gun that authorities say was used to kill Bletsch and that he knew where she lived.

The defense has been trying to pin Bletsch’s June 2014 murder on Bluhm, though investigators previously testified he has an alibi. On Tuesday, the judge ruled Bluhm’s own statement about his alibi was not admissible. On Friday, Bluhm was called to the stand, but he pleaded the Fifth.

Bluhm, a former employee at a state prison in Muskegon, is charged as an accessory after the fact in the other murder Willis is charged with — that of Jessica Heeringa in April 2013. Authorities say Bluhm previously told investigators that he helped Willis bury Heeringa’s body the day after she went missing from the Norton Shores gas station where she worked and then said that story was a lie. Heeringa’s remains have not been found.

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

Wednesday marks the seventh day of testimony in Willis’ trial. It was supposed to have continued Tuesday, but it was postponed because the judge had to decide what parts of Bluhm’s statements were admissible.

Defense attorney Fred Johnson said he’ll probably call two more witnesses and their testimony should take only one day. After the defense rests, attorneys from both sides will deliver closing arguments.

Late last week, jurors heard perhaps the most damning evidence against Willis. A ballistics expert testified the handgun found in Willis’ minivan — which had been stolen from Willis’ co-worker — was used to kill Bletsch, who was shot three times in the head. A DNA expert testified that Bletsch’s DNA was found on a sex toy and glove recovered from the minivan.

Prosecutors have tried to depict Willis, 47, as a serial killer as they laid out the evidence seized from his minivan, his Muskegon Township home and the property of his late grandfather. Authorities testified they found a list of items to go in a rape kit in the trash at the grandfather’s house. They say Willis had electronic files labeled with Bletsch’s and Heeringa’s initials and a code for the date of the women’s death and disappearance, respectively.

Also found on his electronic devices were thousands of murder porn videos — some staged but others real. One was titled “The Jogger” and featured a man kidnapping a woman as she jogged, then raping and murdering her. Blestch was killed as she was jogging near her Dalton Township home.

>>App users: Interactive timeline of Willis investigation