Family express sorrow, mourn Whitney's passing in press conference
21-year-old Whitney Heichel was reported missing by her husband on Tuesday, after failing to turn up for work that morning. Her body was found on Friday, near her home town of Gresham, Oregon, on Larch Mountain, the police say.The Heichels' neighbor, 24-year-old Jonathan Holt, was arrested for the girl's murder and is in now in police custody. Yet, the police are still looking for a motive.
Whitney's husband Clint Heichel and mother Lorilei Ritmiller expressed they are "profoundly devastated," after news of the young woman's death spread like wildfire.
According to ABC News, Whitney was an active member of the Jehovah's Witness community in Oregon, and volunteers from said religious group helped with the church that led to the discovery of her body.
The woman's family is now relying on their religious community for support during these hard times.
"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 though, while this event in our lives is tragic, we saw the positive effects it has had on this community," Heichel's family said in a statement.
Ritmiller added that her daughter was a devoted Jehovah's Witness, and that her dream was to have children of her own.
"She's wanted to be a mama since she was two years old and I brought her sister home," she said. "That was just her biggest hope, to have babies."
She had a "heart as big as the sun," her mother said. A total of 46 phone tips were received, 25 on Wednesday and another 21 on Thursday, helping Gresham officials with their search. Two dozen detectives investigated the girl's suspicious disappearance.
Whitney's mother thanked members of the community, underlining the fact that "many good people" have helped out with the search.