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Willis gets life in prison for Bletsch murder

WZZM-TV • Dec 18, 2017 at 2:35 PM

MUSKEGON — Jeffrey Willis was sentenced Monday to life in prison for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch.

The sentencing hearing was the first opportunity that Bletsch's family would have been able to address Willis directly; however, the defense asked that Willis would be able to leave the courtroom before family members spoke. The judge allowed Willis to go back to the Muskegon County Jail and skip the hearing.

According to some family members, Willis blew a kiss in their direction. Spectators in the court yelled "coward" as he was escorted out.

The hearing continued with tearful victim impact statements from Bletsch's sisters and mother.

"She was amazing inside and out," said Bletsch’s sister, Jessica Josephson. "Becky is so much more than the jogger on the side of the road."

"This coward should have been here to listen to us," added Bletsch’s mother, Debra Reamer. "We deserve a right to tell him exactly how we feel."

Bletsch was murdered in 2014 while jogging along a Muskegon County road, and Willis was charged with her murder in May 2016. He was convicted Nov. 2 of the murder after a 10-day trial.

Willis is also charged with the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Heeringa, who went missing in April 2013 while working at a Norton Shores gas station/convenience store. That trial is scheduled to begin in March. 

Willis' attorney, Fred Johnson, asked Monday if his client could remain in the Muskegon County Jail until the Heeringa trial. The judge denied the request.

By the end of the month, Willis will be moved from the Muskegon County Jail to the Michigan prisoner intake center in Jackson, and eventually placed in one of the state's high-security facilities.

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