Young mom abducted from Sternberg gas station

Tribune Staff • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:32 PM

Jessica Heeringa went missing from her job at the Exxon Mobil gas station, 1196 E. Sternberg Road, late Friday night.

Norton Shores Police were called to the gas station, located just east of U.S. 31 near the Lakes Mall, at about 11:15 p.m. Friday when a customer entered the store and found nobody present.

Police determined Heeringa was supposed to be working, but she could not be located. Her purse and other belongings were found undisturbed, police said. The store’s cash drawer was found and no money was missing.

“It appears that Jessica Heeringa was preparing to close the store when this incident occurred,” police said.

Based on evidence found at the scene, and tips received since Heeringa was reported missing, police reclassified the case as an abduction, officials announced on Sunday.

Police are looking for a silver minivan, possibly a Chrysler Town and Country, that was seen in the area of the gas station prior to Heeringa’s disappearance.

The driver of that van is described as a white male, about 30-40 years old, 6 feet tall with a medium to heavy build, broad shoulders, light brown or sandy blonde, wavy hair, parted in the middle and slightly longer on top. At the time he was wearing a bright red or orange sweatshirt.

Anyone who saw the van, or who may have witnessed suspicious activity near the Exxon Mobil gas station is asked to Contact Silent Observer at 231-72-CRIME (231-722-7463) or Call 911.

Heeringa is described as a white female, 25 years old, 5 feet, 1 inch tall, approximately 110 pounds with blond, shoulder length hair and blue eyes. She might be wearing wire-rimmed eyeglasses and a blue-collared shirt with the words, “Sternberg Exxon” on it.

A task force consisting of investigators from the Norton Shores Police Department, Michigan State Police, Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department, Muskegon Police Department and the Muskegon County Prosecutors Office have been investigating numerous tips that have been received from people nationwide.

At this time, four persons of interest have been interviewed and cleared of any connection in the abduction of Jessica.

Heeringa’s family and friends didn't wait for police to declare her abducted.

They formed a search team Sunday afternoon right next to the gas station. The missing woman’s mother, Shelly Heeringa and her family and friends are now in "go" mode.

"We're going to go toward (the) Grand Haven and Spring Lake area," said one family friend on Sunday.

The Chrysler minivan raised suspicion because it may have been there in the past.

"Other people have contacted them from other gas stations about a gray van pulling up to their gas station and just sitting there staring at the girls who are working inside. And then they take off," Shelly said.

She and Chief Shaw believe the person was probably a past customer. They say Jessica's a friendly girl, and there were no signs of a struggle.

"She's very helpful. That's why I think he lured her out of the gas station," said Shelly. "He knew there wasn't (a) security camera."

Stay tuned to www.grandhaventribune.com for updates on this case as they happen.

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