GRESHAM, Ore. -- Friends, family and community members gathered Wednesday night to memorialize the one-year anniversary of a death of a Gresham woman murdered on her way to work at Starbucks.
A few of Whitney Heichel's friends and co workers gathered outside a Gresham Starbucks for a moment of silence to remember the woman they called "a sweet soul."
It was early in the morning, one year ago, when 21-year-old Heichel was kidnapped at gunpoint by her neighbor Jonathan Holt as she left for work. Holt raped her, shot her and dumped her body on Larch Mountain.
Volunteers and police searched exhaustively for her. They eventually found her body and arrested Holt. Holt was a member of Heichel’s church and confessed to killing her.
“Everyone misses her,” said Heichel’s friend Amanda Orozco. “The whole community misses her. We all do.”
Kerby Deltatowski is a manager at Starbucks and worked with Heichel. “More than anything, we’re here just to celebrate her life,” Deltatowski said. ”She was just a great spirit. She made a difference in everyone's lives.”
Jonathan Holt was married at the time of the murder. He has since divorced. His ex-wife has become friends with the Heichels and they rely on one another for support.
A few months ago Holt was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.