Jessica Heeringa disappeared a year ago Saturday from her job at an Exxon in Norton Shores, Michigan. This case has gotten a good share of national attention — and with it, a lot of different theories — but the basic concept is that she went missing on April 26, 2013 between 10:50pm and 11pm. There was a questionable minivan — potentially a Chrysler Town and Country — in the area prior to her disappearance, as detailed in the video above. There was an amount (apparently small) of Jessica’s blood on the pavement outside the store, and money in the Exxon was left untouched — hence, it likely wasn’t self-propagated or a robbery gone wrong. As of about a month ago, here was a central police statement on the issue, 11 months after the disappearance:
“The evidence obtained during the initial investigation led investigators to believe that Jessica was indeed abducted, which is why the task force was convened so quickly. We are still operating under the belief that Jessica was abducted against her will, possibly by a person whom she knew – either a customer, acquaintance or friend.”
In these cases, the significant other / husband / fiancee is usually the first person they look at; that was the same in the Jessica Heeringa case, but he appears to have been cleared. In fact, the semi-full list of those cleared includes:
Chief Shaw also said numerous people have been cleared, or are “no longer the focus of the investigation” – those people include, but are not limited to, Jessica’s current fiancé, a former boyfriend, two acquaintances, the owner of the gas station and a person who was driving a sliver van resembling the one last seen in the area before Jessica went missing.
There was initially some confusion as to whether someone had witnessed the actual abduction — essentially, a witness claimed that her and her boyfriend were driving past the Exxon, saw something weird, circled back, and saw a guy closing the latch on his minivan — but it’s now confirmed that no one actually saw the abduction.
The owner of the Exxon station in question has dropped a “no comment” on the situation. He’s likely doing that because of the whole idea of “anything you say can and will be held against you…” and/or safety concerns (the cameras at the Exxon weren’t working that night; all video of the van and such is from a nearby bar), but of course it makes him look a bit suspect-y. Here’s some stuff from a blog I wouldn’t necessarily trust, but it’s still moderately interesting:
Ciereman put up a help wanted ad on Craigslist to replace Heeringa 24 hours after the abduction.
He ran off friends and family from a vigil on the store property and has hired an attorney and will not comment about the case.
According to a post here, “FRED CIEREMAN. Owners name. Told the family to stop bothering him about her, or he will have them arrested. Told press he would send them home in body bags if they didn’t leave.”
Ciereman hit on his female employees.
Apparently there are around “a dozen” persons of interest, and the witness mentioned in the paragraph above may actually be the sister of one of Jessica Heeringa’s ex-boyfriends. This guy was also considered a person of interest (he had been at the gas station on the night of the disappearance):
Here’s the initial 911 call reporting that the Exxon clerk is not at the store:
When I used to watch Unsolved Mysteries, some of the most terrifying ones ever were gas station disappearances involving female employees/attendants. Eileen Mangold is one case. As a result, this Jessica Heeringa case resonated with me / terrified me. Again, I have no idea what happened — although I’d guess she’s potentially deceased, as going a year without her child seems dubious (unless, of course, she’s imprisoned or something akin to that) — or who could have done it. Clearing the fiancee was a strong move, but it seems like there are a few other men in her life (ex-boyfriends) who aren’t completely cleared, and it seems like this minivan suspect needs to be totally tracked down and cleared as well. There’s an idea that one potential suspect was “being really flirty” with Heeringa, and when you factor in the idea that so much was left inside the station — money, purse, etc. — it’s quite possible that whoever abducted her met her outside, engaged her in dialogue, and commenced with his plan there. The area police repeatedly classify Heeringa as “social,” so it’s possible that her customer-service-driven nature led to the situation.
The case is still active, and the FBI is not primarily involved, apparently. Here’s hoping that the one-year anniversary shakes loose some media coverage and additional tips, one of which might lead to the actual facts surrounding this case/disappearance. It’s already begun, a little bit: