Leaning on each other for support, that's how Clint Heichel says he and his family are coping in the days after Whitney's Heichel's body was found and Jonathan Holt was arrested for murder.
"It's hard to think that she's gone. I don't know how to deal with it," Clint Heichel said. "We're just holding up each other as we fall down."
Support from the community, he said, has helped as well.
"Our hearts are full. The community has been so responsive to pull together in support of me and my family and Whitney's family," he said. "It's huge."
The Gresham community connected with the young woman shortly after she disappeared on her way to work at a Starbucks location near her home last week.
While friends and police searched for Whitney Heichel, 21, her picture was posted in businesses throughout Gresham.
After her body was discovered on Larch Mountain, community members donated to the family at several fundraisers and offered a lot of support at area coffee shops.
In thanks, the family hosted community members at an open house at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses on Salquist Road Friday.
Thousands attended, standing in a long line to get a few moments with Whitney Heichel's parents, siblings and extended family, including her in-laws.
Whitney Heichel's relatives returned words of condolence with expressions of gratitude. They offered hugs.
"They're amazingly strong and they know they will see her again," said Robin Steele, after meeting with the family. "Like I heard one of her family members say, every day is a day closer to when we'll see her again, so. That was good to see."
Family and friends hope the focus will now turn from how the young woman's life ended, to how she lived: Full of love, joy and devotion to family and her Jehovah's Witness faith.
"If people can relate to that, I think people should always look for the good in each other and encourage the good in each other," said Jim Vaugh, who has acted as family spokesman since Whitney Heichel disappeared. "And we see that this tragedy has encouraged so much good in other people."
Tuesday, April 15 2014 3:04 PM EDT2014-04-15 19:04:55 GMT
A dead, decomposing 40-foot gray whale washed ashore in the Oregon Coast town of Seaside on Tuesday morning, and marine experts advise staying away from the massive carcass because it's "really nasty."KeithMore >
Experts advise keeping your dog on a leash while at the beach in Seaside, mainly because dealing with your pet after it rolls around in a dead whale would be a "horrible way to spend your vacation."More >
Tuesday, April 15 2014 2:46 PM EDT2014-04-15 18:46:02 GMT
Police have located two teenage suspects accused of throwing a cinder block from an overpass onto a passing car below. The cinder block smashed the windshield of a car on Interstate 5 driving under theMore >
The cinder block smashed the windshield of a car on Interstate 5 driving under the East Oregon Avenue overpass in Creswell early Sunday morning.More >
Monday, April 14 2014 8:24 PM EDT2014-04-15 00:24:56 GMT
A man on a motorcycle was killed in a crash involving at least three vehicles in Vancouver. Emergency crews were called to the scene at Northeast 94th and Padden Parkway at around 4 p.m. Monday. DeputiesMore >
Padden Parkway was closed between 94th and SR-503 following Monday's crash. More >
Saturday, April 12 2014 6:07 AM EDT2014-04-12 10:07:09 GMT
An incredible photo snapped Saturday at the iconic Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore is going viral. A mother humpback whale and her calf were cruising just offshore when a set rolled in. J.T. Gray of NorthMore >
An incredible photo snapped Saturday at the iconic Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore is going viral.More >
Tuesday, April 15 2014 1:13 PM EDT2014-04-15 17:13:05 GMT
Life Flight was called to the scene of a serious motorcycle crash in Yacolt Monday. Deputies said a motorcyclist collided with a van on a curvy portion of the roadway on the 17800 block of Northeast GarbrielMore >
Deputies said a motorcyclist collided with a van on a curvy portion of a Yacolt roadway. More >
Tuesday, April 15 2014 4:05 PM EDT2014-04-15 20:05:16 GMT
Portland police officers arrested a 35-year-old man in a Portland Community College parking lot after getting a report that he was suicidal and armed with a shotgun.Officers said they received a call fromMore >
Portland police officers arrested a 35-year-old man in a Portland Community College parking lot after getting a report that he was suicidal and armed with a shotgun.More >
Tuesday, April 15 2014 2:16 PM EDT2014-04-15 18:16:15 GMT
A 42-year-old former Lake County sheriff's deputy has been accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old Lakeview girl reported missing late last week The Oregon State Police say the girl got in touch withMore >
Earlier this month, as an investigation began, Kenneth Turkle resigned from the sheriff's department.More >
Monday, April 14 2014 7:00 PM EDT2014-04-14 23:00:28 GMT
A party promoted on Twitter led to a warning tweet from the Marion County Sheriff's Office and the eventual arrest of a 19-year-old. The Marion County Sheriff's Office took notice of the trending plannedMore >
A party promoted on Twitter led to a warning tweet from the Marion County Sheriff's Office and the eventual arrest of a 19-year-old.More >
Monday, April 14 2014 9:53 PM EDT2014-04-15 01:53:23 GMT
A Scappoose-based priest followed a Vancouver teenager for several blocks while trying to get her into his car, according to Clark County court documents. Michael T. Patrick was arrested on a warrantMore >
A Scappoose-based priest followed a Vancouver teenager for several blocks while trying to get her into his car, according to Clark County court documents. More >