Story Summary

Missing Woman: Jessica Heeringa

Jessica HeeringaNORTON SHORES, Mich- Jessica Heeringa has been missing since April 26th from the Norton Shores area. She was last seen at the Exxon Mobil gas station located at 1196 E. Sternburg Rd.

Jessica is a white female, 25 years old, 5’1 tall, approximately 110 lbs., blond shoulder length hair, and blue eyes. Jessica is also know to wear wired rimed glasses. She may be wearing a blue collared shirt saying “Sternberg Exxon”.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Silent Observer at 231-72-CRIME or 911

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NORTON SHORES, Mich. (April 24, 2014)- As the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa approaches, her family is devastated and heartbroken.

“It’s been a roller coaster. You talk to people and they tell you a tip and then your hopes rise and it doesn’t work out so you sink back down again,” Jessica’s grandma Diane Homrich said.

As they live in happy memories of the past and regrets of the unknown of Jessica’s future.

“I think, maybe I should have told her I loved her more and kissed her more but that’s in the past and you just have to remember the good times,” Homrich said.

It’s a hell those closest to Jessica never imagined through today.  Homrich says she thought this would all be over after a few days and police would find her.

And as the police sort through the thousands of tips, pursue thousands of leads and interview persons of interest, her family holds onto hope.

“There’s no peace and we’ll never have peace until we find her one way or another,” Homrich said.

If you know anything about the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa call Silent Observer at (231) 72-CRIME.

NORTON SHORES, Mich. (April 23, 2014) – As the one-year anniversary of the abduction of Jessica Heeringa approaches, FOX 17 revisited the case and obtained an exclusive timeline of the days surrounding the young mother’s disappearance.

Information from the Norton Shores Police Department reveals Jessica’s boyfriend had a silver van, and so did a customer she spoke with earlier in the day.

We’ve also learned more about investigator’s key witnesses.  Police say one was the gas station manager, who was watching the store closely that night, because she thought Jessica was stealing.

heeringa belongings web gfx (2)On April 26, 2013, sometime between 10:55 p.m. and 11:10 p.m., Heeringa, 26, was abducted from the Exxon store, 1196 E. Sternberg Road in Norton Shores.

The subsequent investigation involved a large task force comprised of 15 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, plus 14 separate specialized units (aviation, behavioral science, technical services, intelligence analysis, etc.).

At its peak, there were 75 people working on the investigation. In all, investigators have devoted over 12,000 staff hours and conducted approximately 1,400 follow-up investigations based on tips and other information received.

A total of 33 search warrants and a minimum of 20 consensual searches have been executed. The searches were primarily conducted to recover date from cell phones, computers, and social media. And there were several searches of residential properties for other physical evidence. The investigation included a minimum of 12 ground searches and two underwater searches.

Here is an amended and expanded timeline that we have constructed based on the investigation to date:

April 26, 2013

2:44 pm: JESSICA purchased groceries at Aldi, 2715 Henry Street.

4:35 pm: JESSICA begins her shift at the Exxon store. JESSICA was aware the store did not have video cameras, as she had advised customers of this and the fact she was working alone. She apparently not concerned about the lack of cameras. It was not uncommon for her to prop open the rear door and turn off the store’s rear security light so she could smoke cigarettes behind the store or allow friends to enter via the rear door.

7:30 – 8:15 pm: A man identified as JESSICA’s reported boyfriend arrived at the Exxon station in a silver full size van. The two apparently had a discussion regarding their relationship. A customer told investigators that JESSICA appeared to be upset after the conversation with the man.

During that time, Jessica also had a fiancé, Dakotah Quail-Dyer.

7:40 – 8:50 pm: A female friend entered the store through the front door to visit JESSICA. Nothing suspicious was noticed at that time. Both the friend and a male customer observed a bluish silver van pull up to JESSICA while she was changing the receipt paper in one of the pumps. It appeared that the male driver and JESSICA had a friendly conversation.

10:55 pm: A female customer entered the store and purchased a lighter. She told investigators that JESSICA was alone in the store and did not appear to be nervous or distressed. The customer did not see anyone in the store or in the parking lot.

11:00 pm (approx.): An Exxon manager and her husband were riding their motorcycles eastbound on Sternberg Road when she saw a silver minivan slowly enter the north drive of the Exxon station from the service drive of the Points Mall. The van drove behind the Exxon station and did a U-turn. Its headlights went out as it pulled behind the store facing west. The manager suspected JESSICA may be in the process of stealing from Exxon, so she turned around on Harvey Street to return to the store. The manager and her husband drove to the Points Mall west of the Exxon station and parked in the lot so they could see the north and west sides of the Exxon station. There were no other vehicles in the lot except for JESSICA’s. The manager saw a figure standing at the rear of the van and noticed the van’s rear hatch was open. The figure shut the rear hatch and quickly opened it again. It appeared as though the figure was adjusting something in the rear of the van, and then closed the hatch again. The manager noted that the figure’s head was just above the roof of the van. The figure then walked to the driver’s door, got into the van, and began driving westbound on the service drive.

The manager made the following observations:

  • The store’s rear security light was not on.
  • The store’s rear door did not open at any time.
  • She never saw a struggle or heard anyone yell for help.
  • She did not see JESSICA outside of the store.

As the van drove closer to their location in the parking lot, the manager and her husband started their motorcycles and pulled up to the service drive. As the van passed, she looked at the driver, a male subject wearing a red or orange sweatshirt. Her husband stated that he did not see the subject well, but did see that he had “crazy” or wavy hair. Neither of them saw JESSICA or anyone else in the van. The manager and her husband pulled onto the service drive and followed the van until it stopped at Grand Haven Road. The manager’s husband stated that he was positive the vehicle was a silver Chrysler Town and Country minivan, as it was the same type a relative owned. He clearly remembered the Town and Country logo on the rear hatch door. Neither obtained the license plate number, as they had no reason to believe a crime had occurred.

(Note: This vehicle was located and was in Traverse City, Mich., at the time of the abduction.)

The van turned northbound on Grand Haven Road while the manager and her husband turned southbound on Grand Haven Road and went home.

11:02 pm: Surveillance video from inside of a closed store in the Points Mall captured a silver minivan turning northbound onto Grand Haven Road.

11:03 pm: Surveillance video from the Homestead Tavern captured a silver minivan driving northbound on Grand Haven Road.

11:05 pm: Surveillance video from the Coin Zone captured a silver minivan driving northbound on Grand Haven Road.

11:10 pm (approx.): A male customer arrived at the gas station, pulled up to the pump, and attempted to purchase gasoline. He was unable to do so, as the pump would not activate. He entered the store, believing that the clerk (JESSICA) may have been in the back room and not aware of his presence at the pump. He was unable to locate JESSICA. Upon exiting the store, he spoke with a female customer and called 911.

11:15 PM: Patrol units are dispatched to the store regarding a suspicious situation.

heeringa belongings pic1 (2)11:25 PM: The first officer arrives and begins investigation.

  • Officers searched the store but did not locate JESSICA. Officers located her purse and jacket in the back room. The purse contained $420 in cash.
  • heeringa gas station pic2 (2)Officers noted a cash drawer on top of the safe in the back room. They found the back door closed and latched, and there was a trash can in front of the door, as if JESSICA was preparing to empty the trash.
  • Officers noted that nothing inside the store indicated a struggle. There was nothing that appeared to be disturbed.
  • Officers exited the rear door and noted that the door did not have a handle on the outside.
  • Officers located items of possible evidence outside the rear door, including what appeared to be a 2″ x 3″ blood stain on the concrete. (The blood was later determined by DNA analysis to be from JESSICA.)
  • Officers photographed the interior and exterior of the store and evidence items prior to collection.
  • Officers collected a sample of the possible blood stain and packaged the other evidence items.

11.38 PM: The Exxon station owner was contacted regarding the open store. He in turn contacted the dayshift manager to respond, as she lives closer to the store.

11:50 PM: The dayshift manager arrives at the Exxon station and provides officers with her observations of the silver minivan and its driver. The manager advised that the cash drawer was “counted down” for the next shift, indicating JESSICA was preparing the close the store. While talking to officers, the manager observed JESSICA’s reported boyfriend drive past the store in a work vehicle. He was contacted, asked to come to the Exxon station, and was questioned by officers.

12:38 AM: K9 team requested to search area. A search of the area north and east of the store was conducted with no results.

The Norton Shores Police Department says they’ve assembled a dozen persons of interest in the past year, eight of which they are no longer focusing on.  But there are three or four persons of interest they’re watching and gathering information on, working to get a probable cause.

All persons of interest have been interviewed.

NORTON SHORES, Mich. (Feb. 24, 2014) – The same plea has been sent out for nearly 10 months: “Bring Jessica Heeringa home.”

The young mother who police believe was abducted from work is still missing.

Although out of the spotlight, Jessica Heeringa is still fresh on a lot of people’s minds.

“We`re just hoping and hoping, and it’s just a nightmare.  Nothing prepares a family for this.” Jessica’s grandma Diane Homrich said.

The case has been a dead-end, from the surveillance video showing a silver van possibly involved in her abduction to the sketch from witness descriptions of the man behind the wheel. Jessica’s purse and money were left behind, and police found drops of her blood behind the gas station where police believe she was abducted.

“We don’t have the information we need to find Jessica or find her abductor and bring them to justice at this point,” Norton Shores Police Chief Daniel Shaw said.

But that’s not good enough for the family of the now 26-year-old mother. “We hope and we have hoped for several months now that Norton Shores would turn it over to the Michigan State Police,” Homrich said.

Chief Shaw said the tasks force investigating Jessica’s disappearance, including members of the Michigan State Police, still keeps in contact, meeting every few months. “We discuss the case with other jurisdictions to see if there`s connections with any of their open cases, or similar cases that they may have had whether it be an abduction or a rape type case,” Shaw said.

Detective Sgt. Mike Kasher of the Norton Shores Police Department has been exclusively working the case every day since Jessica was abducted.

Both family and police believe those involved in the disappearance are from the Norton Shores area, that’s why their focus has remains the area around the gas station where Heeringa worked.

The Heeringa family says they’ve hired a private investigator with money raised at various fundraisers.

Jessica’s 4-year-old son, Zeven, is no longer in contact with her family. “That just breaks my heart because he’s such a cute little guy and of course he`s our one connection left for Jessie and vice versa,” Homrich said.

But, as  leads grow cold and months go by, Jessica’s family, police and the thousands who support the search online  refuse to give up hope.

Anyone with information on the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa should call Silent Observer at (231) 72-CRIME.

Jessica Heeringa New FlyerNORTON SHORES, Mich.- Chief Daniel Shaw of the Norton Shores Police Department says recent rumors regarding the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa are false.

Shaw says there is no one in custody and no updates to the case.

They’re continuing to search for leads and tips in the investigation.

Heeringa has been missing since April 26, 2013 from the Norton Shores area. She was last seen at the Exxon Mobil gas station located at 1196 E. Sternburg Rd.

Jessica is a white female, 25 years old, 5’1 tall, approximately 110 lbs., blond shoulder length hair, and blue eyes. Jessica is also known to wear wired rimmed glasses.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Silent Observer at 231-72-CRIME or 911

NORTON SHORES, Mich. – It’s been nearly eight months since Jessica Heeringa disappeared from the Exxon Mobil where she was working.

Monday morning, outside that Norton Shores gas station, a state lawmaker introduced a bill aimed at protecting those who work during nighttime hours.

If passed, the legislation introduced by state representative Collene Lamonte will require gas stations and convenience store owners in the state of Michigan who are open between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., to either install security cameras or schedule two employees to be on staff.

“In her honor, I am calling this bill ‘Jessica’s Law,’” Lamonte said.

On April 26 Heeringa went to work and never came home.

“Countless community members join the search for Jessica in the hope for bringing her back home to her family, but despite all these efforts, we are no closer to knowing what happened to Jessica than we were 7 months ago,” Lamonte said.

A small trace of Jessica’s blood, a sketch of the suspect, along with a surveillance picture of a grey van are the only clues police have, leaving investigators and family to wonder how much closer they could be to finding Jessica had a security camera been in place at the gas station, or had a second employee been on staff with her that night.

“I think if cameras or a second employee would’ve been in place, I think Jessie would still be here today,” said Shelly Heeringa, Jessica’s mother.

The bill is expected to be introduced to the floor Tuesday afternoon.

NORTON SHORES, Mich. — On Dec. 9, State Representative Collene Lamonte (D-Montague) will introduce a new bill that would require certain safety measures for late-night gas station employees.

The bill would require that gas stations either schedule two employees to work after 11 p.m. or install security cameras.

This legislation is inspired by the case of missing Norton Shores woman Jessica Heeringa, who disappeared from the Exxon station on Sternberg Road April 26.  She was abducted while working alone on the midnight shift, and there were no security cameras in place at the gas station.

Lamonte’s aid confirmed Wednesday that the bill, if passed, would be named after Heeringa.

The official announcement of the bill will take place at 10 a.m. Dec. 9 at the parking lot adjacent to the Exxon station where she was abducted, 1040 E. Sternberg Road.

NORTON SHORES, Mich. — It’s been six months since Jessica Heeringa was abducted from a gas station in Norton Shores, and now the Facebook page created to raise awareness about her disappearance is heating up as accusations fly throughout the threads.

More than 21,000 people like the ‘Find Jessica Heeringa’ Facebook page.  Many of them come to the site from across the world to express their condolences to the family.

Recently, though, people are being accused of knowing more information about her disappearance than they’re coming forward with. Commenters, are telling specific people to come forward with what they know, usually by writing out their initials.

“I don’t want people accusing anybody of anything, and we aren’t accusing anyone.  We just want people to speak up and that’s all we ask for,” said Carrie Mitchell, the Find Jessica Heeringa Facebook page administrator. “Most of that does not come from us. Most of that comes from the general public: people that follow Jessica’s case. People that know what’s going on.

Chief Daniel Shaw with the Norton Shores Police Department has been leading the way on this case since Heeringa was abducted from the Exxon Mobil in Norton Shores in April.

“Be careful of jumping to conclusions,” Shaw said. “That’s what I’ve said from the start. We follow the evidence. We don’t jump to conclusions because then we go off on the wrong track and then innocent people can get hurt.”

But, that’s not the chief’s only concern.

“It’s causing some difficulties for our investigators because they’ll get tips that are based on the rumors we have to follow up on them.”

The family has created a petition to move Jessica’s case from the NSPD into the hands of Michigan State Police. Shaw said their department has been working with MSP from the beginning and are still investigating the case on a daily basis.

NORTON SHORES, Mich- October 26 marks six months since Jessica Heeringa was abducted from the Exxon Station in Norton Shores.  As police and family continue to search for answers, a candlelight vigil is planned to keep hope alive.

According to the Find Jessica Heeringa facebook page, the vigil will take place on Saturday at the Points Strip Mall from 6 to 8 p.m.

Jessica disappeared April 26 after working the late shift at the gas station. A small amount of her blood was found at that scene. Despite thousands of tips and a number of searches, the young mother still hasn’t been found.

Anyone with information on her disappearance should call police or Silent Observer at 231-72-CRIME.

Jessica HeeringaNORTON SHORES,Mich. — Jessica Heeringa hasn’t been seen since working the late shift at the Exxon gas station April 26. Police believe she was abducted, and detectives say there have been no new leads.

Her mother says they’re keeping Jessica’s face out there, and that her daughter’s story made its way to Ireland and France. According to the Find Jessica Heeringa Facebook page the Norton Shores Police Department has dismantled their team of detectives.

find jessica facebook post

Anyone with information is asked to call Silent Observer at 231-72-CRIME or Norton Shores police at 231-733 -2691