PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Jonathan Holt admitted killing Whitney Heichel and was sentenced to life in prison in a plea change in a Clackamas County courtroom Monday afternoon.
Heichel, 21, was slain last year.
Holt, 25, changed his plea in a written agreement June 28. He was crying in court as the judge asked him questions before sentencing him to life without parole on three counts of Aggravated Murder, one count of Kidnapping and two counts of Robbery in the first degree.
The charges he faced in Multnomah County were dropped.
Heichel's family took the stand before he was officially sentenced. Though they are comforted by their faith as Jehovah's Witnesses and believe they will see her again, they do not forgive Holt.
"At gunpoint, you overpowered" Whitney, her mother, Lorilei, said in court.
The Heichels expressed their gratitude to the Gresham police investigators who found her and her killer.
"I want to say I am sorry," Holt told the court prior to sentencing. "I stole a daughter, a sister, a wife."
After his comments, the judge sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. According to current Oregon law, life imprisonment means a minimum of 30 years without any form of prison release. Holt would be 55 years old.
On the morning of Oct. 16, Heichel left her Gresham apartment complex to go to her job at a nearby Starbucks. She never arrived. On Oct. 19, her body was found by searchers on Larch Mountain, located east of Corbett in rural Multnomah County. Holt was arrested on multiple aggravated murder charges that same day.
Holt and his wife resided in the same complex as Heichel and her husband. They also occasionally attended the same church.
According to a probable cause affidavit, on the day of his arrest, Holt confessed to an Oregon State Police sergeant that he was responsible for Heichel's murder.
Holt told detectives that on the morning of her disappearance, he waited outside her apartment, located in the 700 block of Southeast Mount Hood Highway, and when she emerged about at 6:45 a.m., he asked her for a ride. While driving in her 1999 Ford Explorer, Hold pulled a handgun on Heichel and told her to drive to Roslyn Lake, located northeast of Sandy in Clackamas County.
When they arrived at the lake, Holt said he sexually assaulted her. He then shot and killed her, the affidavit reads. Holt claims he threw his cell phone into the lake before transporting her body to Larch Mountain.
An autopsy later determined she died of multiple gunshot wounds.
On the afternoon of Oct. 16, family and friends distributing flyers discovered her black SUV sitting in a Wood Village Walmart store parking lot. On Oct. 18, some children playing in a field near a Troutdale apartment complex stumbled onto her cell phone.
Detectives later confirmed that her ATM card was used at a Troutdale gas station at 9:14 a.m. on the day she went missing.
Holt grew up in Northeast Portland and graduated from Parkrose High School in 2006.
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