Abduction suspect caught with gun, ropes could unlock missing Jessica Heeringa case

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Jeffrey Willis.

It's been three years since Jessica Heeringa disappeared from a gas station on the west side of the state.

Now there is a possible break in the case after a Muskegon County man was arrested in connection with another case.

Investigators met Friday on this case to evaluate key evidence collected. They are trying to find out if there is a link between Jeffrey Willis and the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa who went missing back in 2013.

Willis, 46, has been charged with the abduction of a 16-year-old girl but police believe he could connected to other west Michigan high profile crimes.

"The community, we feel, is safe now," said Undersheriff Daniel Stout.  "But ... we are just at the end of the beginning of the case."

According to court documents, last month a lost girl got into Jeffrey Willis' van. He offered to let her use his cell phone - that's when Willis locked the door and pulled a gun.

The 16-year-old managed to escape by unlocking the doors and jumping out of his moving van. She later gave police a description of the vehicle and pointed Willis out of a lineup.

When officers searched the van, they found several locked boxes and inside -- handcuffs, chains, ropes, five syringes, a possible sedative, photos of females chained and bound, a ball gag, mask and a bar with restraints attached.

They also discovered a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol with the serial numbers rubbed off. Forensic tests will reveal if that was the same weapon used to kill Rebekah Bletsch in June of 2014.

"Does that mean it came from the same gun? "

"It could," said Stout. "So forensically that's what they are going to look at. The casings at the scene and any other bullet fragments that they've got  to try to forensically, you know, tie them together."

Investigators are also working to find out if Willis had anything to do with the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa back in 2013.

She vanished without a trace while working at a Norton Shores gas station. Detectives are not commenting on connections except to say Willis' Dodge Caravan is similar to a minivan captured on video near the scene of Heeringa's disappearance.

"We are very sure we can get a conviction on the attempted abduction," Stout said.  "Now we are trying to look at these other two cases. One is the Norton Shores case with Jessica Heeringa and now we've got the Bletsch case."

The investigation far from over, a team has been formed to track down leads while Willis is being held on a $1 million bond.