Whitney Heichel's family confront Gresham woman's killer, sentenced to life in prison

by AudeSapere 3 Replies latest jw friends

  • AudeSapere

    I didn't see this posted yet...


    Whitney Heichel's family confront Gresham woman's killer, sentenced to life in prison


    When it came time for Clinton Heichel to address the man who murdered his wife, he sat silently staring at the killer, Jonathan Daniel Holt, for a long minute.

    Holt had just admitted kidnapping and shooting 21-year-old Whitney Heichel of Gresham and was sentenced to spend his life in prison with no possibility of parole.

    More Continuing coverage of Whitney Heichel, 21, of Gresham, who was reported missing after she failed to show up for work.

    "What do you say to the man who has taken the love of your life?" Clinton Heichel asked. "My life has been ripped apart and turned upside down," because of your selfishness. "But know this: I will see her again," said Heichel, a devout Jehovah's Witness.

    More than 60 members of Whitney Heichel's family and church attended Holt's sentencing Monday before Clackamas County Presiding Judge Robert Herndon. Holt pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery.

    The shaggy-haired Holt, flanked by his two defense attorneys, sat with his head bowed, through almost all of the 50-minute hearing.

    Holt sobbed as the victim's mother, sister and mother-in-law told him how his actions had affected them. But his tears flowed most freely when Clinton Heichel spoke.

    During the silence, Holt lifted his head three times, locked eyes with Heichel then dropped his head. "I wanted him to look me in the eye before I said anything. A man should be owning up to the things that he's done. You should be able to look a man in the eye. It's about as simple as that," Heichel said outside the courthouse.

    Before the family made their statements, there was a brief recounting of the events that led to the life sentence.

    Holt left no doubt that he killed Heichel. He confessed three days after the Oct. 16 murder and led police to her body. Holt told investigators that he waited for Whitney Heichel outside her residence at the Heatherwood Apartments in Gresham, where they both lived. They also were members of the same Jehovah's Witnesses congregation.

    whitney heichel.JPG Whitney Heichel

    As Whitney Heichel was leaving for work, Holt asked her for a ride. About five minutes into the ride, he pulled a gun and ordered Heichel to drive to Roslyn Lake in Clackamas County, where he forced her to perform oral sex on him. He then shot her four times, killing her. Afterward, he concealed the body on Larch Mountain.

    Heichel family members noted that Holt's family, including his ex-wife, who divorced him immediately after his arrest, also suffered . "Both families were forced to face the unthinkable," said Lora-lei Ritmiller, Whitney Heichel's mother

    Ritmiller and other relatives recounted the pain and devastation of their loss, making frequent references to their faith and the belief that Jehovah would be Holt's ultimate judge. In a statement laced with Biblical references, Ritmiller said Satan was an invisible force behind such heinous acts and that Holt was "eager to be his puppet."

    Chelsea Sauer, Whitney Heichel's sister berated Holt, calling him a coward, a liar, a thief, a pervert and a murderer. "We know what you are, the congregation knows what you are and Jehovah knows," Sauer said.

    Holt made a short statement, saying he deserved whatever sentence was imposed on him. "All the things that were said about me are true. Because of my selfishness, I have stolen a daughter, a sister and wife," Holt said, speaking meekly and staring down. "I'm sorry for what I did."

    Herndon acknowledged Holt's obvious emotional distress and commended him for taking responsibility, admitting his guilt and "not torturing your victim's family for months and months" making them await a trial scheduled for early next year.

    "We got what we wanted," said Clackamas County prosecutor Steven Mygrant. "He'll be locked up for the rest of his life."

    -- Steve Mayes

  • Phizzy

    What a sad case. I do hope the family find some relief by this confrontation, I think is will be helpful, I do hope so.

    Perhaps in the future we may have ways of preventing such things, again, I do hope so. Maybe a good understanding of where the thinking of the perpetrator goes wrong can help to readjust such, before it is too late.

  • TheOldHippie

    A very strong confrontation. I hope it helps them. And at the same time it was balanced in the concluding words to the offender.

    I have experienced the same thing, although in a somewhat different way, but the outcome was the same. Years go by, and it is so close to me still, as if it happened yesterday. Every day I am reminded of what happened. Every day I remember. Every day i think and I am carried away by my thoughts. Every night I dream. Every hour of the day I am a tiny fraction away from crying. It is with you always. There is no planning, just for how to survive this day, the next hour, sometimes even the next five minutes.

    Peace has been taken away. All that is left is the careful act of balancing, so that one does not fall down into chaos.

  • tresdecu

    Still so sad about this. I think about the poor guy a lot actually....I hoped it helped him look that loser/crazy pos in the face, and say what he said.

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