Tragedy in Gresham, Oregon

Whitney Heichel never made it to her job as a barrista at a local Starbucks last Tuesday (October 16). Her husband Clint reported her missing within three hours after she left for work.

Police detectives arrested Jonathan Holt on Friday after interviewing him at least three times during their investigation. Holt was charged with three counts of “aggravated murder.”

Officials said Holt kidnapped Ms. Heichel as she left for work in her Ford Explorer SUV Tuesday morning. They say that evidence indicates that he killed her somewhere in Clackamas County and then disposed of her body near Larch Mountain in Multnomah County. (Parts of the city of Portland extend into Multnomah County.) However, according to the police, because the murder occurred in Clackamas County, the case will be prosecuted within that jurisdiction.

Both Ms. Heichel and Jonathan Holt were Jehovah’s Witnesses and attended meetings at the Gresham Kingdom Hall. James Vaughn, one of the elders at that Kingdom Hall, has been representing Ms. Heichel’s family, making public statements on their behalf. Police credit members of that Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation for helping them look for clues into Ms. Heichel’s disappearance.

Detectives began searching Larch Mountain on Wednesday when evidence of her vehicle was found there. Other evidence includes video taken at a local gas station and a Wal-Mart store parking lot.

Jonathan Holt was described by elder Jim Vaughn as “an irregular attendee” of the Gresham Kingdom Hall. He also stated that members of his congregation were shocked to hear that Jonathan Holt was involved in such a horrible crime. Friends and acquaintances of Holt and his family described him as “ordinary” and “never a problem.” Holt grew up in northeast Portland and attended Parkrose High School. He married his girlfriend in 2010 and lived in the same Gresham apartment complex as the Heichels.

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