Michigan Man Sobs Before He's Convicted of Killing a Mom as She Jogged in 2014

Jeffrey Willis
Photo: Joel Bissell/Muskegon Chronicle/AP

A 47-year-old Michigan man faces life in prison after a jury found him guilty this week of murdering a mother as she jogged along a country road in 2014, PEOPLE confirms.

Jeffrey Willis wept Thursday before learning he had been convicted of the first-degree murder of Rebekah Bletsch, a court official tells PEOPLE.

Bletsch, 36, was shot in the head as she jogged along a rural road in Muskegon County the evening of June 29, 2014.

For nearly two years, her killer would walk free. But in May of 2016, Willis was arrested on kidnapping charges after a teenager allegedly escaped from his moving van and identified him as her captor. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his trial is upcoming.

A court official tells PEOPLE that investigators allegedly recovered bondage equipment from his van, including handcuffs, rope, chain, a bail gag, and leather restraints.

They also allegedly found lubricant and sex toys along with a handgun, syringes, insulin, gloves, and Viagra in a toolbox, the court official tells PEOPLE.

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Also recovered from the van were lists of women’s names and addresses, the court official alleges.

Willis has also been charged in the 2013 disappearance and killing of Jessica Heeringa, and will be tried on murder and kidnapping charges at a later date, the court official confirms. Willis has pleaded not guilty.

The jury returned its decision after less than two hours of deliberations. Willis was also convicted of felony firearms possession.

Rebekah Bletsch

Bletsch’s relatives cheered and cried as the verdict came down, the court official tells PEOPLE.

During the three-week trial, the defense alleged that Willis’ cousin, Kevin Bluhm, had been obsessed with Bletsch, and was the one who fatally shot her after borrowing Willis’ gun, according to the court official.

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But prosecutors argued Willis wanted to kidnap Bletsch so he could rape, torture and kill her. The court official tells PEOPLE that investigators recovered thousands of downloaded videos from Willis’ computer, depicting women being tortured, sexually assaulted, and killed.

The court official says that Bluhm allegedly told investigators that he saw Willis with Heeringa’s body and then helped him dispose of it. Bluhm has been charged with being an accessory after Heeringa’s murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

Willis also has been charged with creating child pornography for allegedly using a camera hidden in his bathroom. He faces additional charges of downloading child pornography and surveilling unclothed minors, the court official says.

He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Attorneys for Willis and Bluhm could not be reached for comment Friday.

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