Man accused of helping hide Jessica Heeringa’s body to stand trial

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MUSKEGON, Mich. — A judge has ruled there is enough evidence to send Kevin Bluhm, the cousin of accused killer and kidnapper Jeffrey Willis, to trial on charges related to the murder of Jessica Heeringa.

Bluhm is charged with being an accessory after the fact in the murder of Heeringa. Police believe he helped Willis hide the woman's body after she'd been killed.

Jeffrey Willis is accused of killing Heeringa in 2013. He is also charged for the 2014 murder of Rebekah Bletch and for kidnapping a teen girl last spring.

Cousin's conflicting tales

Jessica Heeringa (left) disappeared in 2013. Rebekah Bletsch was murder in 2014.

Jessica Heeringa (left) disappeared in 2013. Rebekah Bletsch was murder in 2014.

Bluhm, a former corrections officer, confessed to lying to police investigating the disappearance of Heeringa and the murder of Bletsch, for which he was charged and sentenced for obstruction.

Last summer, Bluhm told police Willis “did do it,” when asked about the abduction of Heeringa.

Initially, Bluhm told investigators he "knew nothing" of Heeringa's disappearance or Willis' potential involvement, but later changed his story and told investigators he helped "take care of" Heeringa with Willis.

Bluhm later recanted that statement too.

Investigator: Bluhm's lies 'make no sense'

Detectives believe Bluhm did, in fact, help his cousin hide Heeringa's body.

On Monday, Lt. Michael Kasher, lead investigator of the Heeringa case, with the Norton Shores Police Department testified Bluhm was upset and crying before telling investigators he could take them to Heeringa's body.

Jeffrey Willis stands at his preliminary hearing - 12/6

Jeffrey Willis stands at his preliminary hearing - 12/6

Bluhm said he helped “get rid of the body,” by assisting Willis in wrapping Heeringa in a sheet like “a taco,” according to Kasher's testimony.

Willis and Bluhm then carried Heeringa’s body into the back of Willis' silver minivan parked in the driveway, Kasher testified, based on what he said he was told by Bluhm.

Bluhm told detectives he followed behind Willis and parked his vehicle at a nearby drywall supply store. Bluhm then said he and Willis drove Heeringa's body to an area off Sheridan, north of Laketon Road. The two walked her body to an area near the old rail road tracks where a hole had already been dug and shovels were at the ready, Bluhm told investigators.

Kevin Bluhm in court - 8/9/2016

Kevin Bluhm in court - 8/9/2016

Police searched the same area earlier in the summer, but found nothing.

Kasher said Bluhm later told police Willis must have moved Heeringa's body.

"In 26 years of my career, I’ve had drugs, armed robberies, homicides, assaults, and I’ve been lied to all the way through, but it’s ‘I didn’t do it, not ‘I did do it,’ and then ‘oh I’m sorry, I didn’t do it,'" Kasher testified. "I'm sorry, that makes no sense."

Kasher said Bluhm told investigators "things he should not have known."

Defense: No evidence beyond lies

The defense argued there is no evidence, other than Bluhm's conflicting statements, tying him to Heeringa. His attorneys told the judge there is no evidence if Bluhm, in fact, lied during his interview with police.

"The issue of Mr. Bluhm’s truthfulness has been litigated and my client was convicted," Timothy Hayes told the judge. "There’s no evidence (Bluhm) was an accessory after the fact, expect his own statements. If his statements are lies there’s no crime here.”

The judge disagreed.

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