PORTLAND – Jonathan Holt, 24, the man charged with the aggravated murder of Whitney Heichel, was arraigned in court on seven counts of aggravated murder with a firearm Monday.
Sources told KGW reporter Kyle Iboshi that Holt was "obsessed" with Heichel. Court documents said that police believe Holt kidnapped, robbed, sexually abused and murdered Heichel.
The probable cause document said that Holt told investigators he waited outside Heichel's Gresham apartment on October 16 and asked her for a ride. Then, just five minutes into the ride, he pointed a gun at Whitney and forced her to drive to Roslyn Lake and perform sex acts on him. The court document said that Holt shot and killed Heichel near the lake, on SE Thomas Road in Clackamas County, then hid her body near Larch Mountain.
Holt was arraigned in Clackamas County Jail Monday afternoon. He appeared in a suicide smock, and cried during brief questioning from the judge. Holt was ordered held without bail.
On Friday morning, police arrested Holt, of Gresham, in Heichel's death, after they gathered evidence for three days which they said tied him to the murder.
KGW learned that Holt went to Parkrose High School in Northeast Portland and graduated in 2006 with a 3.35 grade point average. He has no history of violent crimes, with only minor driving infractions on his record. Holt is also married and Heichel's husband said the couples knew one another. He said they had even recently cared for the Holts' cat when they were out of town.
The Holts also attended the same Jehovah's Witness church and lived in the same apartment complex as Heichel. Heichel's family released a statement Monday that described Holt as an "irregular attendee" and said that his presence provided no clue to the murder.
Dr. Frank Colistro, a criminal psychologist not involved in the Heichel investigation, said in these types of cases, there may be warning signs.
"The typical problem is that everybody has a piece of the puzzle, but nobody has all of the pieces. So after the fact, people will come forward and say, 'you know, I should have come forward the night he did this or that,'" he explained.
Holt worked at a Subway restaurant in Troutdale until last summer. Co-workers there told KGW they were shocked to learn of his arrest.
"I found out they found her body and then I decided to look up the article. I saw his name and I read it literally four times. I looked at the picture and my jaw dropped because I was working with him, like, alone, so often and I never would have suspected that he would do that," said Holt's former Subway co-worker, Michelle Allen.
Detectives first received information on Wednesday that led them to question Holt regarding Heichel’s disappearance. He voluntarily came to the police station for an interview, and detectives learned he was an acquaintance of Heichel and her husband.
It was also revealed he lived in the same apartment complex as the couple.
After the interview, Holt was free to go.
Police found evidence in a Walmart dumpster near where Heichel’s SUV was found, and they later found clues including a license plate on Larch Mountain near where her body was later found. This led detectives to conduct a second interview with Holt, which they said had many inconsistencies from his first interview.
During the second interview, detectives took fingerprints and DNA from Holt.
Timeline: The search for Whitney Heichel
On Friday morning, the crime lab received additional evidence tying Holt to Heichel’s car. Holt was asked to come in to the police department for an additional interview and was placed under arrest. Around that same time, detectives at Larch Mountain located Heichel’s body.
“I have never been prouder of the work of not only the Gresham Police Department, but also of the assistance provided by Multnomah County Sheriffs, Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, the Oregon State Police and crime lab, Troutdale, Clackamas County Sheriffs, search and rescue teams from Multnomah County, and the FBI,” said Chief Craig Junginger with the Gresham Police Department.
Holt was moved from the Multnomah County Detention Center to the Clackamas County Jail Sunday morning because officials believe the murder happened in Clackamas County. He will remain on suicide watch until he is given a mental evaluation.