- (Photo: Facebook/Whitney Heichel)
Whitney Heichel's neighbor and murderer appeared in court for the first time yesterday to be arraigned on the charges of kidnapping, robbery, sodomy, and murder. Heichel's case has captivated the nation, given her younger age and the intense brutality of the crimes committed against her.
The 21-year-old Starbucks barista was on her way to work when she was taken hostage by 24-year-old Jonathan Holt, her neighbor. Holt has been charged with seven counts of kidnapping, robbery, sodomy and murder.
The official cause of death was "homicide" due to "multiple gunshot wounds," according to Dr. Christopher Young of the Multnomah County Medical Examiner's office.
Heichel was due at work on Tuesday morning but never made it; her husband reported her missing two hours after she was due at Starbucks. Police and members of the community banded together in order to launch a search for Heichel; her vehicle was found later with its passenger window shattered.
Children later found her cell phone in the bushes and turned it over to authorities. They will not say what led them to her body, which was found nearly 40 minutes away from the Heichels' home. Holt's fingerprints and DNA were found inside Heichel's vehicle.
Whitney's husband, Clint, told ABC News his wife was "very kind and loved everybody. She didn't do anything to deserve this.
"It's just … why?" he asked. "That's the only question. Why? It's very difficult; we only had a year and nine months together and when you get married you bet on forever. She was just a beautiful little person, just full of love, and she was just a ray of light to everybody."
Holt attended the same church as the Heichels and was considered a neighbor and friend by the family. Now he could face the death penalty if convicted of murder; his case will be presented to a grand jury, though prosecutors could file more charges.
Holt is currently being held without bail and has been placed on suicide watch.