Acquaintances of Mich. gas station clerk ruled out in disappearance
By The Associated Press
Published: Monday, April 29, 2013, 8:54 p.m.
DETROIT — Several friends and acquaintances of a petite 25-year-old gas station clerk who went missing while working the night shift have been ruled out in her disappearance, which western Michigan investigators are treating as an abduction, the local police chief said on Monday.
Police have frustratingly little evidence as they search for Jessica Heeringa, who disappeared Friday night shortly before the young mother was set to close an Exxon Mobil gas station in Norton Shores. The station didn't have a security camera, and there were no signs of a struggle or robbery, though police have released a description of a vehicle and a man seen in the area.
Norton Shores police Chief Daniel Shaw said relatives, friends and other people associated with Heeringa have been interviewed, and that investigators are “no longer really concerned with their activities from that night.”
“We're moving on, trying to find other people,” Shaw said.
A man trying to buy gas called police after finding the gas station open but no employees around.
“There's nobody here,” Craig Harpster, 54, told a 911 operator in a recorded conversation authorities released. “I hollered, ‘Hey,' walked around the building. ... It just seems strange.”
Investigators later found Herringa's purse and other personal belongings in the station, and the cash register untouched. Police described Herringa as 5-foot-1 and about 110 pounds.
Police are searching for a gray minivan and its driver, who is described as a white man, age 30 to 40, about 6 feet tall, with light brown wavy hair. The description is from witnesses who saw the van parked near the station and driving away.
“There's no sign of a struggle, no sign of anything inside the store being disturbed,” Shaw said.
“The cash drawer was sitting out, and no money was missing. Her purse was in the store with 400-some dollars in it. It's just odd how that occurred.”
Shaw said nearly two dozen law enforcement officials are following leads. The police chief described the city, home to about 24,000 people on the shores of Lake Michigan, as “quite safe” with a low rate of violent crime.
“The family believes that Jessica more than likely left to help (someone) in some way,” Shaw said. “Their belief is that someone that she's either acquainted with or someone she was trying to help lured her out.”
Heeringa's mother, Shelly Heeringa, told local media that she repeatedly told her daughter she worried about her working late by herself.
“She said, ‘Mom, don't worry. I can handle anybody,'” she said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Powerful quake shakes N. California; no injuries
- Climate contraptions get real consideration
- Climate contraptions get real consideration
- Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima radiation
- California man named as bitcoin creator denies involvement
- Flubbed ‘stifling’ finally ends 29-round spelling bee
- Obama losing close adviser to end 9 years of service
- Consensus on how to notify data breach victims lacks
- Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ program to target minorities with high jobless rates
- Gas explosion in N.J. leaves 1 dead, 7 injured