Thursday, October 18, 2012

UPDATE; HER BODY FOUND - Starbucks barista Whitney Heichel vanishes



GRESHAM, Ore. (AP) — Searchers have found the body of a young Oregon woman who vanished Tuesday on her way to work and police have arrested a neighbor for investigation of aggravated murder, Gresham police said late Friday night.
The body of Whitney Heichel, 21, was found on Larch Mountain, a remote forested area east of Gresham, Police Chief Craig Junginger told a news conference.
After collecting DNA and fingerprints and conducting three interviews over several days, police arrested Jonathan Holt, 24, of Gresham, the chief said.
Holt lived in the same apartment complex as Heichel and her husband.
The Starbucks barista reportedly left her apartment for work at about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday on a drive that typically takes less than five minutes.
Her husband, Clint, called police roughly three hours later. He told investigators he tried to reach Whitney multiple times after her boss alerted him that she never arrived for her 7 a.m. shift.
Police said Heichel's ATM card was used at a nearby Troutdale gas station at 9:14 a.m. Tuesday. Two hours later (reports stated black male(s) used the credit cards), her sport utility vehicle was found in a Wal-Mart parking lot with the passenger side window smashed.
A child later found her cell phone in a field that lies between the gas station and the Wal-Mart, giving investigators another venue to search.
Jim Vaughn, a family spokesman, spoke at the Friday night news conference, thanking police for their commitment in the case.
"Really, words can't begin to express the sadness that our families are experiencing tonight," Vaughn said.
He asked for privacy for the family.
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In an emotional Thursday morning news conference, the mother of a missing Oregon woman spoke glowingly of Whitney Heichel, who vanished Tuesday morning on her way to work as a Starbucksbarista.
Heichel, 21, went about her usual routine and left for work at 6:45 a.m., authorities say, but she never arrived for her 7 a.m. shift at the nearby Starbucks. 
According to police in the Portland-area suburb of Gresham, Ore., her ATM card was used at a gas station about two hours after she was supposed to have been at work. Subsequently, her black Ford Explorer was found by friends and family at a local Wal-Mart with its front passenger-side window.
 Lorilei Ritmiller, Heichel's mother, talked of her daughter at the news conference, reported the Associated Press. Her daughter, she said, is known in her family as "Mama" because she's like a second mother to her siblings.
Heichel's husband, Clint, had been set to read a statement, a police spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times in an interview early Thursday. 
But at the conference, the Oregonian reports, he quickly broke down crying. Ritmiller put her arms around him.
At the news conference, police reportedly said that "property" and other evidence had been recovered at several locations, but they wouldn't go into detail.
The public was urged to call in with information at the tip line: (503) 618-2719.