Willis trial: Day two of testimony focuses on Heeringa disappearance

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MUSKEGON, Mich. -- Testimony for the trial of Jeffrey Willis for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch continued Friday.  During day two of the trial, it didn't take long for prosecutors to bring up other charges against Willis, including the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa.

Jeffrey Willis looks toward the gallery on the second day of his murder trial on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. (Joel Bissell | MLive.com)

Testimony Friday was difficult for many in the courtroom, especially Bletsch's family members, who at times left for moments as they heard from the medical examiner who performed Bletsch's autopsy hours after her murder in June 2014.  The Forensic Pathologist Dr. Brandy Shattuck testified Bletsch died from four gunshot wounds to her head, any one of which she said could have incapacitated her.

However, the majority of testimony shifted to the Heeringa case, and the night of April 26, 2013 when she disappeared while working at the Exxon Mobile gas station on 1196 E. Sternberg Rd. in Norton Shores.  The jury heard a 911 call from the man who found that gas station empty when trying to buy gas and felt something was wrong.

There was also testimony from officers who found Heeringa's purple coat and purse hanging in the back room of that gas station the night of her disappearance, and then blood outside that gas station's back door, as well as a piece of a Walther battery laser sight, which would fit the gun police say Willis used to kill Bletsch.

Then Susan Follett, a former Exxon employee who worked with Heeringa, took the stand.  She drove her motorcycle past the gas station the night of Heeringa's disappearance when she said she had a gut feeling something wasn't right.  She saw a silver minivan parked with its lights off by the back door.

"The lights on the van turned off and that made me sicker to my stomach and I knew something wasn't right," Follett said in court, tearing up. "I pulled out behind him, he turned right and I turned left."

Willis owned a silver minivan, which is also a connection in the other high-profile cases he's charged in: the kidnapping and murder of Heeringa and the attempted abduction of a 16-year-old girl in April 2016. That teen is expected to testify during this trial, which will last about three weeks.

Testimony resumes 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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