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Oregon barista was raped, shot by neighbor, police say

Whitney Heichel, the 21-year-old Oregon barista whose body was found days after she vanished on her way to work, was sexually assaulted and shot to death by her neighbor, police said.

Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

Jonathan Daniel Holt, who turns 25 Wednesday, was arrested Friday, Oct. 19 and charged Monday with the murder of Whitney Heichel.

Police charged Heichel’s neighbor, Jonathan Holt, 24, with seven counts, including aggravated murder with a firearm, kidnapping, robbery, and sodomy, during an arraignment in Clackamas County Circuit Court Monday.

He appeared via satellite from Clackamas County Jail wearing an anti-suicide smock and looked on the verge of tears, The Oregonian reported. Holt did not enter a plea during the brief appearance.

Holt, who lived in the same Gresham, Ore., apartment building as Heichel and her husband, admitted to investigators that he waited outside Heichel’s apartment and asked her for a ride when she left for work at about 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16, according to a probable cause affidavit released Monday by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.

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According to the document, Holt told Oregon State Police Sgt. Jon Harrington Friday that Heichel agreed to give Holt a ride. About five minutes after they got into the car, Holt pulled out a handgun and forced her to drive to an area near Roslyn Lake, he told Harrington. There, he forced Heichel to engage in sexual activity and then shot the 21-year-old woman to death, according to the affidavit.

The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office announced Monday the death of 21-year-old Whitney Heichel was caused by four gunshot wounds. Dr. Christopher Young with the medical examiner’s office said the autopsy, which was completed on Saturday morning, showed Heichel’s death to be homicide, The Oregonian reported.

Holt told investigators that he then threw his cell phone into Roslyn Lake and drove to Larch Mountain, where he attempted to hide Heichel’s body.

Gresham Police Department

Whitney Heichel, 21, was last seen by her husband on Tuesday, Oct. 16. Her body was discovered Friday.

Holt’s cell phone was found at the lake and a DNA sample found on the steering wheel of Heichel’s Ford Explorer was “consistent with” Holt’s DNA profile, the affidavit said.

Searchers discovered Heichel’s body late Friday night on a remote, forested area east of Gresham, Ore.

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According to a statement released early Monday by the Heichel’s family spokesperson Jim Vaughn, Holt was a member of their Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation, and the family had no indication that he was “capable of being involved in what is alleged to have happened.”

Holt is expected to get a court-appointed attorney within three days, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 26. He will continue to be held without bail in the county jail.

In the statement, Heichel's family and her husband, Clint Heichel, said they were devastated by the "bewildering" loss of of Whitney but comforted by the support from the community.  

“The loving concern from ones that didn’t even know Whitney or her family has deeply touched our hearts. The kind expressions and support from perfect strangers has confirmed to us that there is much good in people, and this moves them to display ‘loving acts of kindness.’

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