Willis claims innocence: ‘I’m not going quietly’

Jeffrey Willis changed passwords to 'JLH42713' after Jessica Heeringa vanished

Jeffrey Willis testifies during his trial for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch. (Joel Bissell/Pool)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — When asked if he is a serial killer, Jeffrey Willis laughed.

“No,” he told Target 8.

But if convicted in May of the murder of Jessica Heeringa, Willis will meet the FBI’s definition of one: someone guilty of killing at least two people in separate events.

Three times of the course of three days, Willis spoke to Target 8 from the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia, where he’s being held on a life sentence for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch.

The interviews were scheduled after Willis reached out to Target 8, claiming in a letter that he’s innocent, that he was framed in both murder cases and that he has proof. The conversations took place over the phone because that was the only way the prison would allow Target 8 to record them.

When asked if he killed Heeringa, Willis replied, “No.” When asked if he had anything to do with her 2013 disappearance, he again replied, “No.”

It’s the same answer he gave when asked if he killed Bletsch, who was shot in the head as she jogged near her rural Muskegon County home in June 2014.

As Willis walked out of his sentencing hearing for Bletsch’s murder before her family could address him, he turned around to blow a kiss.

“I didn’t blow it at the family,” Willis told Target 8. “I blew it at (Muskegon County Prosecutor) D.J. (Hilson) because he knew what he was doing. If I can help it, he’s going to prison.”

Willis says Hilson lied and altered evidence. He also laid out a list of what he claims are slip-ups by investigators in the Heeringa case; slip-ups Willis says will come out in court.

“Now they’ve already got me convicted on false evidence, now it’s going to be easier for them to try to get me convicted on this Heeringa thing,” Willis said.

“I’m not going to go quietly this time,” he added.

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

But what about the mountain of evidence linking Willis to Heeringa? Investigators found an electronic file on his computer labeled “VICS” containing subfolders titled with Bletsch and Heeringa’s initials in code.

When Target 8 noted that was suspicious, Willis said, “I write stuff down all the time. I make lists all the time.”

“The file that you are talking about, I explained it in court,” he continued. “It’s for the fact that the police had come to my house and were investigating. So I wanted to make sure I had this stuff lined up for them if they came back.”

That’s not the only evidence against Willis in the Heeringa case.

He took a vacation day from work the day Heeringa went missing from the Norton Shores gas station where she worked — a gas station co-workers say Willis frequented, as it is between his home and workplace.

“Ah, oh, the 25th, right. You are talking about- We have- I thought we covered this,” Willis said when Target 8 asked him about that vacation day.

He said he had to use the day before it expired at the end of the month.

Target 8 also asked about the list of serial killers found inside a camera bag in Willis’ shed. There was a mark on that list next to the names of the men known as the Toolbox Killers. Authorities say there were also locked toolboxes in Willis’ minivan that contained, among other things, sex toys, latex gloves, steel cable, Viagra and the gun used to kill Bletsch.

“I’m not going to answer that one because that might be something that my lawyer wants to keep for trial,” Willis said when asked about the list.

Then there’s the saved phone bill from the night Heeringa went missing and a crazy confession in which Willis’ cousin, Kevin Bluhm, told investigators in hysterics that he helped Willis bury Heeringa’s body.

“I don’t know why he said that, honestly,” Willis said.

Heeringa’s remains have never been found. Willis told Target 8 he has no idea if Bluhm was involved in her disappearance.

Releasing a piece of information never before made public, police told Target 8 that after Heeringa disappeared, Willis changed several passwords for accounts ranging from his bank to his email to “JLH42713.” That matches up with Jessica Lynn Heeringa, April 27, 2013 — the day after she went missing.

“I don’t want talk about that right now. That’s one of the things that we want to save,” Willis said.

Willis said he plans to file a motion to dismiss the Heeringa case. He is working on appealing his conviction in the Bletsch case.

Prosecutor Hilson told Target 8 he is not going to dignify Willis’ comments with a response.

>>App users: Interactive timeline of Willis investigation