‘He is the Muskegon monster:’ Family refutes accused killer’s claim of innocence

MUSKEGON, Mich. -- The father of Rebekah Bletsch, a mother murdered while jogging less than a mile from her home in June 2014, refutes the accused killer's recent claim to innocence from jail.

"He says he's not a monster, but you know he can say that 100 times a day," said Nick Winberg, Bletsch's father, "I believe he really is."

For more than 39  months it's been a waiting game for justice for Bletsch's loved ones, including the initial months her murder went unsolved. Now 17 months after Jeffrey Willis was charged with her murder and numerous trial delays, Winberg says he's ready for trial to begin Oct. 17.

"I'm just waiting for justice finally for my daughter," he said.

Though Winberg says he has no words to say directly to Willis, he has plenty to say about what Willis recently told media from his jail cell, claiming he's innocent.

"The [defense] tried all this legal maneuvering and talking about side issues," said Winberg, "it doesn't change the fact that Willis is a cold-blooded murderer. He is the Muskegon monster."

In May 2016 Willis was charged with murdering Bletsch about a week after being arrested for kidnapping a 16-year-old girl, who testified Willis held her at gunpoint in his van. That teen's testimony helped investigators link evidence including ballistics to the murder of Bletsch.

"[Willis'] defense team has said, 'Well it's a really complicated case,' but that's just PR; it's not really a complicated case, it's pretty cut and dry," said Winberg.

Now after nearly three-and-a-half years without his 36-year-old daughter, Winberg says he still has faith they will get justice.

"I was shattered for months, but now is the time just to tough it out and get through it," he said. "Hopefully in six weeks it'll all be over."

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