(GRESHAM, Ore.) — The young Oregon barista Whitney Heichel. who vanished on her way to her job at a Starbucks, was sexually assaulted before she was shot “multiple” times, according to charges filed Monday against the man arrested in her death.
Jonathan Holt, 24, a neighbor of Heichel and a member of the same Jehovah’s Witness church, appeared via closed-circuit television in a Clackamas County court wearing a suicide smock.
He reportedly cried throughout the arraignment, simply answering “yes” to the judge’s questions.
Holt was charged with seven counts of kidnap, robbery, sodomy and murder. His case will soon be presented in a grand jury, and additional charges may be filed. If convicted of the most serious counts he could face the death penalty.
He did not enter a plea at Monday’s hearing and will continue to be held at a county jail without bail.
“The cause was multiple gunshot wounds and the manner was homicide,” Dr. Christopher Young of the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office told ABC News.
The search for the missing 21-year-old woman came to a grim conclusion Friday night when police found her body and arrested a neighbor in connection with her death.
Police found Heichel’s body on Larch Mountain, a 40-minute drive up winding roads from her home in Gresham, Ore.
They arrested Jonathan Holt, 24, an acquaintance and neighbor, after a series of interviews reportedly didn’t add up and they found his fingerprints and DNA in her recovered car.
Heichel’s devastated husband said that he had “bet on forever” with his wife of less than two years and has now been left wondering why anyone would hurt her.
“She’s just very kind and loved everybody,” Clint Heichel told ABC News in an exclusive interview. “She didn’t do anything to deserve this. It’s just…why? That’s the only question. Why?”
Clint Heichel said that the married Holt lived in his apartment complex, and they attended the same church. Heichel said that he and his wife cared for the Holts’ plants and cats when they were away. Two weeks ago, Heichel helped Holt jump-start his motorcycle.
Heichel is grieving the loss of his wife and the future they had planned together.
“It’s very difficult, we only had a year and nine months together and when you get married you bet on forever,” he said. “She was just a beautiful little person, just full of love, and she was just a ray of light to everybody.”
Police have not reported a motive for the killing and have released few details about when Holt may have approached Whitney Heichel or if he had been stalking her.
Heichel was reported missing on Tuesday morning when she did not show up for work at Starbucks, which was just a five-minute drive from her home. Shortly after, her Ford Explorer was found abandoned in a Walmart parking lot with its passenger-side window shattered.
Her husband reported her missing at 10 a.m., about two and a half hours after she was supposed to report for work.
Heichel’s bank card had been used to get gas at two different gas stations within eight minutes, her husband said, and police had been studying a surveillance video from the first station.
A man told police he recognized Heichel sitting in the passenger seat of her car at another station shortly before 9:30 a.m., but said a man was driving.
Children playing outside an apartment building found Heichel’s phone in some bushes on Thursday, and their parents knew it was Heichel’s immediately because the screensaver showed her picture. It also had text messages asking if she was OK.
Earlier in the week, a search team found tire tracks, broken glass and Heichel’s license plate on Larch Mountain, where they would later find her body.
Whitney Heichel’s family said that in spite of their profound loss, the support they had received from their community has convinced them that there are “many good people.”
“The loving concern from ones that didn’t even know Whitney or her family has deeply touched our hearts,” Heichel’s family said in a statement. “The kind expressions, and support from perfect strangers has confirmed to us that there is much good in people…. And though, while this event in our lives is tragic, we saw the positive effects it has had on this community.”
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