Detectives who worked on the murder case of Whitney Heichel said they knew from the start that her Oct. 16 disappearance bore few similarities to other missing person cases.
Heichel's neighbor, Jonathan Holt, admitted to police he waited outside her apartment and asked for a ride as the 21-year-old left for her 7 a.m. shift at Starbucks, authorities said. He made her to drive to a remote area, where he forced her to perform a sex act on him and then shot and killed her, according to detectives.
Heichel was reported missing a few hours later. Detectives Fred Huffman and Scott Hogan, who were on the case since day one, said they immediately had questions about the woman's disappearance.
"This was not a person that had that pattern of behavior," said Hogan.
Hogan and Huffman interviewed Heichel's friends, co-workers, family and husband, Clint. The pieces of Heichel's life started to come together, revealing a dependable, thoughtful and loving young woman who had no reason to run off.
Though Huffman said it was obvious Heichel was a special person, investigators couldn't focus on that fact.
"You are constantly trying to figure out where that person is, what's the next step. So for me, the emotional side sits there. You don't disregard it, but you put it aside until you do what you need to do," Huffman said.
On the evening of Oct. 19, Hogan joined a team of investigators on Larch Mountain where search crews found Heichel's body.
As a police officer, it meant closure in the case. But as someone who had become close with Heichel's family and friends, it meant grief.
"I knew immediately the pain that her family and friends were going to have to go through," Hogan said.
In the past week, Hogan and Huffman have moved on to other cases and resumed their normal workload. But they said no one in the Gresham Police Department or the Multnomah County Major Crimes Team will ever forget Heichel's case.
"I was ... very proud of my co-workers because even though it was bad news, people would know what happened," Hogan said.
Holt, the suspect in Heichel's case, is being held in jail without bail. He is facing six counts of aggravated murder, one count of kidnapping, one count of sodomy and two counts of robbery.
Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved.
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