Investigators in Gresham, Oregon found the body of 21-year-old Whitney Heichel, right around the same time one of her neighbors was arrested for investigation of aggravated murder.
Police say the suspect, 24-year-old Jonathon Holt, was an acquaintance and a resident of the same apartment complex Heichel lived in with her husband. Holt volunteered to be interviewed shortly after Heichel’s disappearance, according to Gresham Police Chief Craig Junginger. Holt made inconsistent statements during two interviews and also submitted to fingerprint and DNA analysis – evidence which helped connect Holt to Heichel’s sport utility vehicle. Investigators say there is no evidence that Heichel and Holt were anything more than acquaintances.
Clint Heichel called police after his wife’s boss informed him that she never showed up for her 7 a.m. shift at Starbucks. Police discovered that her ATM card was used at a nearby gas station at 9:14 a.m. on Tuesday. Family and friends found her SUV in a Wal-Mart parking lot, with a smashed passenger side window. Some of Heichel’s personal belongings were found in a nearby trash bin and a child came across her cellphone in a field. Heichel’s body was eventually discovered on Larch Mountain, where the family’s search team also found a license plate and other “items of interest”.
Heichel’s family posted a letter of thanks on a website created to help in the search for Whitney. In the letter, they thank local authorities and the FBI for their efforts, saying, “They wanted to find Whitney just as if she was their own daughter or close friend.” The letter also states that Heichel’s family is “profoundly devastated” by her death.
“To say that this case brought fear and anxiety to the community is a vast understatement,” said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis during a press conference on Friday. “As we watched these events unfold, Whitney in many ways represented all of our wives, daughters, sisters, friends and loved ones.”
Holt is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, October 22.