GRESHAM, Ore. – Searchers found the body of a young Oregon woman who vanished this week on her way to work and a neighbor has been arrested, Gresham police said late Friday night.
The body of Whitney Heichel, 21, was found on Larch Mountain, a remote, forested area east of Gresham, Police Chief Craig Junginger told a news conference.
After collecting DNA and fingerprints and conducting three interviews over three days, police arrested Jonathan Holt, 24, of Gresham, for investigation of aggravated murder, the chief said.
Holt lived in the same apartment complex as Heichel and her husband.
The Starbucks barista reportedly left her apartment for work at about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday on a drive that typically takes less than five minutes.
Her husband, Clint, called police roughly three hours later. He told investigators he tried to reach Whitney multiple times after her boss alerted him that she never arrived for her 7 a.m. shift.
Police said Heichel's ATM card was used at a nearby Troutdale gas station at 9:14 a.m. Tuesday. Two hours later, her sport utility vehicle was found in a Wal-Mart parking lot with the passenger side window smashed.
A child later found her cell phone in a field that lies between the gas station and the Wal-Mart, giving investigators another venue to search.
Police have been searching Larch Mountain since Wednesday, believing that Heichel's SUV was driven there.
“To say that this case brought fear and anxiety to the community is an understatement," Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis told the Oregonian on Friday. "Our law enforcement personnel and our community searched for Whitney as if she were a member of their own family."
Detectives interviewed Holt on Wednesday and Thursday before arresting him during a Friday night interview, the chief said.
There were "many inconsistencies" in Holt's interviews, Junginger said.
Additional crime lab evidence received Friday morning tied him to Heichel's vehicle, the chief added.
It was not immediately known if Holt was represented by a lawyer.
Jim Vaughn, a family spokesman, addressed the Friday night news conference, thanking police for their commitment in the case.
"Really, words can't begin to express the sadness that our families are experiencing tonight," Vaughn said.
"Whitney was a very loving person," he added. "She was warm, she was kind, she was everything you would want in a friend, relative, spiritual fellow worshipper."
He asked for privacy for the family, saying "our loss and heartache is too much to bear right now." Police took no questions.
Husband Clint Heichel gets a hug from Lorilei Ritmiller, mother of Whitney
Two words: DEATH penalty.
I'd pull the switch myself in this case.
This is very sad. I wonder what was wrong iwth the nutcase neighbor?
You just know that lunatic was probably watching her for weeks. Maybe even months. He likely knew her routine, and waited for the right time to do what he did. Sad indeed.
What a heartbreaking photo.
I'm sad this has turned out in the same manner as so many other similar crimes...
Here's the latest on this very tragic case:
[italic]Whitney Heichel, the 21-year-old Oregon barista whose body was found days after she vanished on her way to work, was sexually assaulted and shot to death by her neighbor, police said.
Police charged Heichel’s neighbor, Jonathan Holt, 24, with seven counts, including aggravated murder with a firearm, kidnapping, robbery, and sodomy, during an arraignment in Clackamas County Circuit Court Monday.
He appeared via satellite from Clackamas County Jail wearing an anti-suicide smock and looked on the verge of tears, The Oregonian reported. Holt did not enter a plea during the brief appearance.
Holt, who lived in the same Gresham, Ore., apartment building as Heichel and her husband, admitted to investigators that he waited outside Heichel’s apartment and asked her for a ride when she left for work at about 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16, according to a probable cause affidavit released Monday by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.
According to the document, Holt told Oregon State Police Sgt. Jon Harrington Friday that Heichel agreed to give Holt a ride. About five minutes after they got into the car, Holt pulled out a handgun and forced her to drive to an area near Roslyn Lake, he told Harrington. There, he forced Heichel to engage in sexual activity and then shot the 21-year-old woman to death, according to the affidavit.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office announced Monday the death of 21-year-old Whitney Heichel was caused by four gunshot wounds. Dr. Christopher Young with the medical examiner’s office said the autopsy, which was completed on Saturday morning, showed Heichel’s death to be homicide, The Oregonian reported.
Holt told investigators that he then threw his cell phone into Roslyn Lake and drove to Larch Mountain, where he attempted to hide Heichel’s body.
Holt’s cell phone was found at the lake and a DNA sample found on the steering wheel of Heichel’s Ford Explorer was “consistent with” Holt’s DNA profile, the affidavit said.
Searchers discovered Heichel’s body late Friday night on a remote, forested area east of Gresham, Ore.[/italic]
And this is why I will never vote to abolish the death penalty. Never. Evil lives amongst us.
If the DP had not been repealed in 1972, Manson and his followers would have been dead by now.
CA Prop. 34 seeks to repeal the DP and I voted no. No one will ever convince me that some evil asshole shouldn't pay the ultimate price. They end up dying in prison, but there has to be an ultimate punishment to put fear in these bastards.
Re Prop 34:
I'd rather pay to feed some dick for the rest of his life than execute an innocent person.
[quote]but there has to be an ultimate punishment to put fear in these bastards.
And yet when someone is that crazy evil, the death penalty doesn't deter them or put fear in them, now does it?
It just makes us feel better to kill them.
I never said DP was for deterrence, r10. At least that's not my reason. Retribution. Retribution for the victims, for the family and for society.
I'll save my sympathies for the victims, like this woman in Oregon. She didn't deserve what happened to her.
An awful crime like so many others but I'm a firm believer that the US needs to join the rest of the western world and do away with the death penalty, but it will never happen. I'm always stunned when I read reader comments about cases like this which suggest such things as having the grieving widower kill the murderer on live TV or any number of other snuff fantasies the outraged public come up with. These are the majority of responses. You see how blood-thirsty Americans are. Those types of actions would, of course, make us no better than the killer.
Can any paid member start a thread on California's propositions? There's so many Californian on this board I think it would be educational to know what you guys are voting for or against.
How about Autumn Pasquale? I posted about her at another site and got kicked off!
The teen boys who murdered Autumn for her bicycle will be out when they are 21. Their life will go on and they will get married and have children, while Pasquale will still be 6 feet under.
What is there to talk about?
WTF is going on with the messages tonight? I swear one disappeared from the David Lee Roth thread and now R13 and R14 are in the wrong thread.
Google this: Heartbreaking murder of a self described 'tomboy'
It's a story I saw on lchat.
[quote]I never said DP was for deterrence
You said it was to put fear in them, theoretically that would imply deterrence, but anyway, carry on..