Police Make Arrest in Murder of Whitney Heichel
Statement from Police Chief Craig Junginger
Good evening. Within the last several hours detectives of the Gresham Police Department arrested Jonathan Daniel Holt of Gresham for the aggravated murder of Whitney Heichel.
About the same time, we arrested Holt; we also were notified by our investigators on Larch Mountain that they had located Whitney’s body. We are still early into the arrest and the recovery of Whitney’s body and cannot provide a lot of details about the investigation at this time. However, I will provide a basic timeline and information of how we arrived at the arrest of Holt and the location of Whitney.
Just before 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16 Gresham Police officers responded to the Walmart in Wood Village regarding the discovery of her car.
By 2:00 p.m., Gresham detectives responded to the Walmart.
By 3:30 p.m., all working Gresham Detectives reported to the Walmart and began canvassing the area. They located some of Whitney’s personal affects in a dumpster in the parking lot.
Later that evening, detectives located additional personal affects in dumpster in a nearby shopping center that they believed were also from her vehicle. We also developed information leading us to believe her vehicle had traveled east into Clackamas County soon after her disappearance.
By late Tuesday, search teams organized by the Heichel’s church, located additional items of evidence near Dodge Park. At this point the Multnomah County Major Crimes Team and the Oregon State Police were called in to assist with the investigation. This added about 15 additional investigators to the case.
On Wednesday morning Oct. 17 with the additional resources, canvassing began in the Heichel’s apartment complex, detectives collected surveillance video and a search was started at Dodge Park. During this same time, another search team organized by the church found the license plate and other items of interest on Larch Mountain. Detectives and Search and Rescue teams then responded and began a search on Larch Mountain.
Later that day, Investigators received information leading them to Holt. When contacted, he voluntarily came to the police department for an interview. During this interview with Holt, detectives determined he was an acquaintance of the Heichel’s and lived in the same apartment complex.
On Thursday morning Oct.18, detectives continued to search Larch Mountain and located additional possible evidence from her vehicle.
Detectives also conducted a second interview with Holt at the Gresham Police Dept., which included many inconsistencies from his first interview. During this time we obtained DNA and fingerprints from Holt.
Later Thursday afternoon as you all know, Whitney’s cell phone was located in nearby Troutdale. We also discovered additional evidence that narrowed the focus on Holt as the suspect in the disappearance of Whitney Heichel.
Early this morning, from the crime lab we received additional evidence tying Holt to Whitney’s car. The search also continued on Larch Mountain.
Early this evening, Holt came voluntarily to the police department for an additional interview. He was then subsequently placed under arrest. At about that same time, we were notified by detectives at Larch Mountain that they had located the body of Whitney.
Holt will be lodged at Multnomah County Detention Center and booked on the charges of aggravated murder.
Notifications have been made by us to the Heichel family. As you can imagine this was tragic news for them.
I have never been prouder of the work of not only the members of the Gresham Police Department but also of the assistance provided by Multnomah County Sheriff, Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, Oregon State Police and crime lab, Troutdale, Fairview, Clackamas County Sheriffs, Search and Rescue teams from Multnomah County and FBI. These investigators over the last three days have worked around the clock and have poured their hearts and souls into this case. In my 35 years of law enforcement this is one of the finest collaborations of police work I have ever seen.
I would now like to allow Mayor Bemis to say a few words.
Statement from Mayor Shane Bemis
There is no question that our community has been shaken to the core this week. My deepest sympathies go out to Whitney’s family. They have experienced the unimaginable, and I am deeply sorry for their loss.
Words cannot describe what they are going through and I encourage everybody to give them the space and support they need to begin the healing process.
To say that this case brought fear and anxiety to the community is a vast understatement. As we watched these events unfold, Whitney in many ways represented all of our wives, daughters, sisters, friends and loved ones.
Gresham has become a big city over the years, but cases like this show instantly how tightly woven our small-town fabric remains.
The Gresham community aided the investigation with tips and leads, and as Whitney’s family, friends and church community rallied instantaneously when they learned of her disappearance.
While this conclusion is a tragedy, I want to recognize the work of the Gresham Police Department, which labored around the clock to first identify a potential suspect and second, to bring the suspect in and let the process of administering justice begin.
Our law enforcement personnel and our community searched for Whitney and worked this investigation as if she were a member of their own families.
We mourn the loss of a special girl today, and this is a very tough time for our community. But in the face of this tragedy, we will see justice served.
Photograph of Jonathan Daniel Holt (provided by Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles)