MUSKEGON, Mich. -- A Michigan man convicted of murder blew a kiss as he left the courtroom on Monday, the victim's family told WXMI.
Jeffrey Willis was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2014 murder of Rebekah Bletsch, a mother who had been jogging near her home after work when she was fatally shot.
Willis requested not to be present during his sentencing, avoiding statements from the victim's family who called him a coward as he left the courtroom.
Bletsch's mother Debra Reamer told the court, "This coward should have been here to listen to us. We deserve our right to tell him exactly how we feel."
“I think that was very cowardly to walk out like that, and then to turn around to my family and blow a kiss?" said Jessica Josephson, Bletsch's younger sister, after the sentencing. "I think that’s his kiss of death. He’s going to get what he deserves in prison."
Left standing before rows of family and community members, Bletsch's loved ones addressed the court and read a letter from several of Bletsch's friends.
"Becky was everything a big sister should be," Josephson told the court. "I will never forget the time I was with my sister and I asked her, ‘Becky are you pregnant?’ She said 'no.' I told her I had a dream she was pregnant, a few days later Becky showed up at my door and said, 'your dream came true.' From that moment on, that child became her world."
Winberg called on Willis, who is also facing charges in the 2013 disappearance of Jessica Heeringa, to confess in that case. Heeringa's body has not been found.
"I ask that he find it in himself to give the Heeringa family their daughter back," said Winberg. "They deserve a body to lay to rest. He claims that he’s not a monster, but his actions speak louder than words."
Willis was arrested in the spring of 2016 after an abduction attempt in Muskegon County. Evidence was found in his home and his vehicle to tie him to the Bletsch murder, including the Walther P22 gun in his van that matched ballistics in Bletsch's murder.
"[Willis] really is evil," said Nick Winberg, Bletsch's father with tears in his eyes. "We have to move forward. The Bible says to keep conquering evil with good, and my family will. We are going to move forward and live good lives."
Willis faces another trial in March for the murder of Jessica Heeringa.