Prosecutor wants to destroy van owned by convicted killer

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FILE – In this Nov. 2, 2017 photo, Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson during his closing statements to the jury on the eighth day of the Jeffrey Willis murder trial at the Muskegon County Courthouse in Muskegon, Mich. Authorities want to destroy a minivan that still belongs to a Willis who is serving life sentences for the slayings of two women in western Michigan. The van played a role in Jeffrey Willis’ crimes in the Muskegon area. (Joel Bissell/Muskegon Chronicle via AP)

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — Authorities want to destroy a minivan that still belongs to a man who is serving life sentences for the slayings of two women in western Michigan.

The van played a role in Jeffrey Willis’ crimes in the Muskegon area. A teenager in 2016 said she escaped from the vehicle during a kidnapping. That incident jump-started investigations of two unsolved homicides.

FILE – In this June 18, 2018 photo, Jeffrey Willis speaks to the courtroom before he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2013 murder and kidnapping of Jessica Heeringa at the Muskegon County Courthouse in Muskegon, Mich. Authorities want to destroy a minivan that still belongs to a Willis who is serving life sentences for the slayings of two women in western Michigan. The van played a role in Jeffrey Willis’ crimes in the Muskegon area. (Joel Bissell/Muskegon Chronicle via AP)

“The van shouldn’t be back in circulation,” said Muskegon County prosecutor D.J. Hilson, who is asking a judge to approve a request to take it out of storage and destroy it.

Willis was convicted of shooting and killing Rebekah Bletsch as she jogged along a rural road in 2014. He also was convicted of kidnapping and killing a local gas station clerk who disappeared in 2013. Jessica Heeringa’s body still hasn’t been found.

At trial, Hilson said Willis kept a “rape kit” in a box inside the Dodge Grand Caravan.

Willis told a judge Monday that he wants to keep ownership of the vehicle, though he’ll never leave prison to drive it, MLive.com reported. There was no immediate decision from Judge William Marietta.

Hilson said Willis should be forced to cover storage fees, which exceed $100,000, if the van isn’t destroyed.

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