How a heroic 16-year-old girl helped Michigan police capture a murder suspect
Jeffrey Thomas Willis (Screenshot/News8)

A Michigan teen helped police make an arrest in a mysterious 2014 fatal shooting after she escaped from the murder suspect, MLive reports.


Investigators have accused Jeffrey Thomas Willis, 46, of  killing Rebekah Bletsch in 2014. They do not believe the two knew each other, but Bletsch had bruises on her wrists, hands and back while Willis' van was outfitted with what seems like equipment to help him abduct women.

What led police to arrest him was the brave leap a 16-year-old girl took from his van after he allegedly kidnapped her and threatened her with a gun. The teen was able to escape, and identified Willis to police.

"I've told the Bletsch family, I think she's a hero," Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson told reporters. "Her bravery and her courage led us down this path."

It was the arrest in connection to the kidnapping of the girl that helped authorities crack the case, Hilson said during a press conference about the case.

Bletsch, 36, was found lying roadside in Dalton Township, less than a mile from her home. She had been shot several times in the head, while she was out jogging, MLive reports.

Willis is also being investigated in connection with the 2013 disappearance of 25-year-old Jessica Heeringa, ClickOnDetroit reports.

In the van Willis drove, investigators found items that could have been used to abduct and restrain women, including syringes filled with a liquid that could have been a sedative.

The main evidence against him, MLive reports, was a ballistics match between bullets found in Bletsch's body, shell casings at the scene and a handgun in Willis' van.

Willis was also charged in two separate cases on child pornography counts. He was due in court Wednesday and a judge has denied him bond in the murder case, meaning he will remain in custody pending trial.

"We've got a long way to go. I'm prepared to make that walk with the Bletsch family," Hilson told reporters. "Hopefully it starts bringing closure to this wonderful family."

Watch the report, from News8, here: