Willis trial: Teen recounts moment she jumped from silver van

In court today, a teenager being referred to as MJN testified.

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MICH. - The teen who said last year she jumped from the van of Jeffrey Willis told jurors about the terrifying event on Tuesday morning inside a Muskegon County Circuit courtroom.

The teen says she was a 16-year-old at the time. She was identified in court by her initials MJN.

She told jurors she was lost and attempting to walk home from an overnight party at a location north of Muskegon and near Green Creek Road.

After wandering for five hours MJN testified a silver minivan approached her from behind. It was the morning of April 16, 2016. She said the sun was just coming up at the time.

She testified the man driving the van offered his cell phone to her so she could call her mother.

MJN says after getting into the van the driver said his phone was dead, the van's doors locked, and the man began driving away.

After asking him to stop, MJN says the driver pointed a gun at her.

It's then she told jurors that she unlocked the door of the minivan and jumped out. The van stopped and the driver got out too.

"I was running down the road and screaming for him please not to kill me," said MJN. "And then after I was far from him he told me it was just a joke."

MJN ran to the home of Dawn Schmitt who told jurors she lives on Green Creek Road.

Schmitt testified she heard a man and a woman yelling. "Screaming 'help, he has a gun,'" Schmitt said. "She was hysterical, terrified."

From inside her home Schmitt testified she called 911.

Tuesday jurors also heard from the investigator who narrowed down a list of 34,000 silver vans to 30 registered in the Muskegon area.

Unique features including the van's wheels and antenna helped lead investigators to Jeffrey Willis and eventually to an arrest.

Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

© 2017 WZZM-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment