(GRESHAM, Ore.) — The family of murdered barista Whitney Heichel said in spite of their tragic loss, the support they have received from their community has proven 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.”
The search for the missing 21-year-old came to a close 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 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. Not long after, her Ford Explorer was found abandoned in a Walmart parking lot with its passenger side window shattered.
Her husband, Clinton, reported her missing at 10 a.m., about 2 and a half hours after she was supposed to report for work.
“I called her several times,” Clinton Heichel said Wednesday. “I texted her several times and then actually at about 9:30ish, her phone got to the point where you would call and it went straight to voicemail.”
Whitney Heichel’s bank card was 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 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 okay.
Earlier in the week, a search team discovered tire tracks, broken glass and Heichel’s license plate on Larch Mountain, where they would later find her body.
Holt is scheduled to appear in Clackamas County Court on Monday.
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