Jeffrey Willis, 46, of Muskegon, Michigan, was ordered Wednesday to stand trial for the 2014 murder of jogger Rebekah Bletsch, according to WZZM. During the hearing, detectives testified they found necrophilia and “kidnap and kill” videos on Willis’ computer and a folder labeled “RSB,” the initials of Rebekah Bletsch. These files were found in a folder titled “Vics.”
After the hearing, Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson, who prosecuted the case himself, told reporters, “I’ve been doing this for 17 years, and this is probably the most disturbing thing I’ve ever (dealt with). This man is a very disturbing individual, and I’m very glad we got him off the streets. I don’t know how many lives were saved.”
New felony charges were brought against Willis today for surveilling an unclothed person without consent. These stemmed from 2011 for incidents involving three girls who lived in his neighborhood. In another case, Willis is charged with putting a hidden camera to record girls using his bathroom. He is also facing child pornography charges for production and distribution.
Willis is a “person of interest” in the 2013 disappearance of Jessica Heeringa, 25, who went missing from a gas station. A folder with her name on it was also found on Jeffrey Willis’ computer. Prosecutors do not have enough evidence at this point to charge him with Jessica Heeringa’s disappearance. A cousin of Heeringa said that Jeffrey Willis knew the young woman and would frequently stop at the gas station where she worked the night shift. A silver Dodge minivan, similar to Willis’s van, was seen at the gas station just prior to Heeringa’s disappearance.
The videos on Willis’ computer showed women being chased, raped, and murdered. Some of the videos were dramatizations, but some of them were real victims, Michigan State Police Sgt. Chris Prevette said in court yesterday.
“[The videos] depicted individuals pulling up alongside of females on the side of the road. When they approached her, that female took off running into a field. Once in the field, they chase after her, attack her and sexually assault her. There were other videos depicting the same thing where at the end of the video they murder. They show this in an acting way and we also found videos that showed this that are not acting.”
In the “RSB” folder were photos of Rebekah Bletsch and reward posters, as well as images of scantily-clad women who looked like the murder victim. In 2014, Bletsch, a 36-year-old married mother, was shot in the head while jogging near her home. Last month, ballistics connected the bullets from Willis’ handgun to shell casing found near Bletsch’s body.
A co-worker testified on Wednesday that she had told Willis she had a.22 caliber handgun. That gun went missing about two months prior to Bletsch’s murder but was later found in Willis’ van. Also found in Jeffrey Willis’ van were ammunition, syringes with liquid, a ball gag, chains, a mask, and a bar with wrist restraints. The co-worker also testified that Jeffrey Willis continuously asked her for her underwear.
Willis was arrested in April following the attempted kidnapping of a 16-year-old girl, according to the Detroit Free Press. The teen said she got lost while walking home, and Willis pulled his van over. He offered to help the teen and handed her his cell phone but forced into his van. The teen jumped from the moving vehicle barefooted and ran for help. The teen later picked Willis out of a police line-up.
“She probably doesn’t realize how much of a hero she is,” Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said.
Police are also looking closely at the murder of Angela Thornburg, 15. The freshman girl went missing in September 1996. A month later, her partially-clothed body was found in woods near Muskegon. Willis had worked for the school district but was fired for accessing pornography on a school computer.
A probable cause hearing was set for July 5, and the preliminary examination is scheduled for July 11. Willis has been housed at the Muskegon County Jail, held on a $1 million bond, since his arrest on May 17.
[Photo by Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department/AP Images]