Man accused of murdering Whitney Heichel faces new charges

Man accused of murdering Whitney Heichel faces new charges
Jonathan Holt appears in a booking photo taken at the Clackamas County Jail.

GRESHAM, Ore. - A man accused of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and then killing a Gresham woman is now facing new charges of burglary and encouraging child sex abuse.

Jonathan Holt, 24, was arraigned in court on Thursday under the new indictment. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, which are in connection with information that was discovered during the Whitney Heichel murder investigation.

Holt is also facing six counts of aggravated murder with a firearm, one count of first-degree kidnapping, one count of first-degree sodomy and two counts of first-degree robbery. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Holt did confess to murdering Heichel but that does not make it an open and shut case because there is a tenet in the American justice system that you cannot be convicted on your confession alone. The idea is that it keeps someone from taking credit for a crime they did not commit - there has to be evidence to convict a person of a crime besides their confession.

Holt's trial is scheduled for late February.

Case Background

Whitney Heichel, 21, left for work the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 16 and vanished. Worried family, friends and members of her church quickly launched a search for the young woman who meant so much to them.

During the search, Heichel's vehicle, a 1999 Ford Explorer, was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Wood Village WalMart. A window was shattered and the inside was a mess. Then more clues turned up - her cell phone was found outside a Troutdale apartment complex and her sweater along Dodge Park Boulevard east of Gresham.

Heichel's body was later found on Larch Mountain. She had been shot to death.

Investigators soon arrested Holt in connection with the murder and details about what had happened to Heichel began to emerge. In court documents, investigators said Holt asked Heichel for a ride and then forced her at gunpoint to drive to Roslyn Lake, where he sexually assaulted her and then shot her several times. They said he then dumped her body on Larch Mountain.

Holt lived in the same apartment complex as Heichel and her husband, Clint, and was also a member of the couple's church.

The Heichels only knew Holt as an acquaintance, although Clint told detectives that the man did have a key to their apartment because Holt and his wife had at one time watered their plants while the couple was on vacation.

Holt's wife, Amanda, kept out of the media glare following her husband's arrest. She filed for divorce not long after Holt was taken into custody.