The family of Whitney Heichel, who was murdered last week, has expressed its "profound devastation" at the loss of the 21-year-old Starbucks barista. Neighbor Jonathan Holt has been arrested, and new details are beginning to emerge in the mysterious case.
"The loving concern from ones that didn't even know Whitney or her family has deeply touched our hearts," the family said in a statement. "The kind expressions, and support from perfect strangers has confirmed to us that there is much good in people … And though, while this event is our lives is tragic, we saw the positive effects it has had on this community."
Heichel disappeared from her home on Tuesday morning during her commute to the local Starbucks where she worked. It was only a 2-minute ride, but during that time, Heichel went missing. Her vehicle was found hours after she was due at work, and one of its passenger windows had been shattered.
A child later found Heichel's cell phone, and police, family and friends began scouring the area for any clues to Heichel's whereabouts. Her body was found on Friday, nearly 40 minutes away from her home. Police arrested Johnathan Holt, Heichel's neighbor, after they found his fingerprints and DNA inside Heichel's vehicle.
He is due to appear in court later today, where he will be formally charged with her kidnapping and murder. The case gained national attention after Heichel's employer, Starbucks, began tweeting and using Facebook to help aid in the search.
"Thank you for your concern about our partner (employee) Whitney Heichel. We are deeply concerned and our thoughts are with her family, friends and community. We are making every effort to support them at this difficult time. We are also working with local authorities," Starbucks posted on its Facebook page.
After Heichel's body was discovered, the company changed its message and offered its condolences to "Whitney's family, friends, fellow store partners and the Gresham and larger Portland communities during this very sad and difficult time. Whitney, your Starbucks family will miss you greatly."