GRESHAM, Ore. – Police investigators said they watched the man accused of murdering Whitney Heichel try to hide two handguns before confessing to detectives that he killed Heichel, according to court documents released on Friday afternoon.
The court documents also say that Jonathan Holt told investigators where he dumped Heichel’s body and also that he admitted to having child pornography.
In an affidavit to get a search warrant, investigators said they were following Jonathan Holt on October 19; three days after Heichel first disappeared. During the course of that day, they followed Holt to his job at a company called Canteen Vending in North Portland.
While in the Canteen parking lot, officers said they saw Holt “walk away from his vehicle back towards the southeast corner of the business. Jonathan Holt was seen standing up against the wall that faces N. Lagoon Avenue. Jonathan Holt was seen standing there for a moment and Sergeant Kubic felt like it appeared as if Jonathan Holt might be dropping something in the shrubbery along the wall of the business.”
Another deputy later went back and searched the same area. He found a black semi-automatic handgun in the bushes partially covered in mud, according to the court documents.
Investigators said they followed Holt later that same day as he drove to the Gresham Police Department for a scheduled interview with detectives.
While there, investigators wrote that a deputy “saw Jonathan Holt kneel down next to tall grass planted in an island in the parking lot. Deputy Zwick observed Jonathan Holt pretending to tie his shoes while kneeling down. Deputy Zwick observed Jonathan Holt quickly move his hand next to the tall grass then back to his shoes and while doing so Jonathan Holt looked around the parking lot.”
Zwick said that he suspected that Holt had thrown something into the grass.
Another deputy later found a second handgun when he searched the grass, according to the court documents.
Investigators also said they found ammunition boxes, three magazines, several rounds of 9mm ammunition and an empty holster.
After police said Holt ditched the second gun, he went into the police department for an interview. During the interview, which was recorded, investigators said Holt admitted to shooting Heichel several times with a handgun then leaving her body on Larch Mountain, according to the court documents.
Investigators said Holt admitted to forcing Heichel to perform a sex act on him and that he forced her to drive him around at gunpoint.
During that same interview, police said Holt also admitted to downloading and possessing child pornography on his laptop and external hard drives.
At the end of the interview, detectives said Holt agreed to show them where he had shot and killed Heichel, according to the affidavit.
That Friday night, Holt and several detectives drove to an area off Thomas Road in Clackamas County. Holt pointed out a small turn-out where he said he killed Heichel, officers wrote.
During a follow-up conversation with Whitney’s husband Clint, he told detectives that Holt and Holt’s wife lived in their apartment complex and attended the same church. Clint said that the Holts had a key to the Heichel’s apartment because the Holts had previously watered their plants while the Heichels were on vacation, according to the affidavit.
Clint said he was very sure that they got the key back shortly after returning.
According to investigators, Holt admitted to stealing an old iPhone from the Heichel’s apartment. Clint said he was not aware of that, but when he later checked for the phone in a drawer he confirmed it was indeed gone.
One of Whitney’s friends was the first person to find her Ford Explorer at a Shell gas station in Troutdale in the afternoon of the day she disappeared.
Police eventually managed to get the SUV to their secure facility, where they inspected the vehicle top to bottom.
According to the search warrant affidavit, they found the following things:
- The front passenger window was missing and there was glass on the inside and outside running boards
- There was a light dusting of dry, dirty mist over the exterior
- All four tires had “copious amounts of dried and evergreen needles stuck to them”
- The inside of the windshield had some unknown clear and red and white-matter clumps stuck to it
- Several red spots that were “consistent with the color of blood” were found inside the car
- Detectives found clumps of long hair in several places
- Detective “observed a large wet stained area in the middle of the floorboards partially under the front part of the rear seat.” The substance was red and looked like blood that had pooled. Some areas were darker, which is “consistent with coagulated blood.”