MUSKEGON, Michigan. – A man convicted for the killing of a 36-year-old woman in western Michigan blew a kiss to the courtroom Monday before he was sentenced to life in prison in one of the two murder cases against him.
Judge William Marietti approved Jeffrey Willis’ request for the leave of the court, and not hear statements from the family of Rebekah Bletsch, who he was convicted for the award while they are jogging in Muskegon County in 2014. That drew cries of “coward” of the spectators.
“I don’t think he’s going a very long time in prison. I hope he gets what he deserves,” Bletsch’s sisters, Jessica Josephson, said after the hearing.
Willis was arrested last year when a teenager, said he tried to kidnap her. The arrest jump-started the investigation of the Bletsch murder and 2013 the disappearance of a gas station clerk Jessica Heeringa.
A gun, rope, chains, handcuffs, and syringes were found in Willis’ van. The police also discovered a computer file with the title “VICS” with Bletsch’s initials and her date of death.
Willis denied wrongdoing during the trial, but the jury quickly convicted him in November.
Prosecutor D. J. Hilson said Bletsch family, “earn the right to the person who is convicted for the murder of their daughter and sister.” But the judge said there was nothing in Michigan law that required him to keep Willis in the courtroom.
“Life without parole sounds good,” Hilson said of Willis’ mandatory sentence. “But it can and should be much worse.”
Willis still faces a trial in the Heeringa case. Her body is still not found.