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Fundraiser to be held Saturday for missing Michigan woman

A fundraiser will be held Saturday, November 30, 2013, for missing Michigan mother Jessica Heeringa.
Photo/Karlene Bradford

Friends, loved ones, and supporters of missing Michigan mother Jessica Heeringa will host a fundraiser Saturday, November 30, 2013, in Lowell, MI, in an effort to fund search efforts related to her disappearance.

It was shortly after 10:50 p.m., on Friday, April 26, 2013, when Jessica Heeringa vanished from her job as a night clerk at the Exxon Mobil gas station in Norton Shores. It is believed she was abducted shortly before her shift was scheduled to end.

A customer who found the store deserted alerted police -- who then responded -- found the store empty, and Jessica gone.

The 25-year-old blonde-haired, blue-eyed mother of one seemed to vanish without a trace, boggling law enforcement, and leaving many unanswered questions for her family, friends, and fiancee. This weekend, her loved ones and supporters will gather to honor Jessica, and to raise funds that will directly offset expenses related to the search effort to locate her.

The fundraiser will be held from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, November 30, 2013, at Larkin's The Other Place, 301 Main Street, Lowell, Michigan. There will be 50/50 raffles, food, drinks, desserts and music, for a $20 per-person entry fee.

The event is being organized by Jill Sloma, a close friend of the Heeringa family. We spoke with Karlene Bradford, one of the volunteers for Saturday's event -- via phone -- from her home in Michigan.

Jessica was gone without a trace; and this is our effort to keep her name and face in the forefront, while funding the efforts of the private investigator who will help us find her".

Those efforts include the creation and distribution of missing person's fliers, search-and-rescue (SAR) efforts, and following up on leads and tips submitted in the case.

The suspected abduction of Jessica Heeringa has generated support -- and assistance -- from hundreds of people in and around the United States, who vow not to stop until she is found and returned to her family.

Jessica has brought together so many people, and doesn't even know it," Bradford said. There's not a moment I can't say we need volunteers to do this or that; and they step up every time. So many people are helping to find her, and I want them to know how grateful we are for their help and support".

Very little information has been released regarding the disappearance of Jessica Heeringa, which is currently being handled by the Norton Shores Police Department. In May 2013, reported a small amount of blood belonging to Jessica had been identified by law enforcement, giving her family hope that she fought her alleged abductor, was not mortally injured, and is still alive. The information is providing hope to her loved ones that Jessica is still out there, and they are asking for an intensified search and investigation, hoping "fresh eyes" will lead them to finding her.

Jessica's family is now asking for the case to be transferred to the jurisdiction of the Michigan State Police (MSP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). For those wishing to support that request, the petition may be signed here.

At the time of her disappearance, Jessica Heeringa was 25 years' old (now 26), with shoulder-length, strawberry-blonde hair, weighing approximately 100 pounds. She has blue eyes -- one of which is a lazy eye -- and wears wire-rimmed glasses. At the time she was believed to have been abducted, Jessica was wearing a bright blue polo short with 'Sternberg Exxon' on it, a black tank top underneath, blue jeans, and high-heeled boots. She also has several tattoos: a music note and peace sign on her left ankle, a star on her back, sleeping "zzzzz's" on her left foot, and a sun & moon on her right calf.

A $15,160 reward is being offered for any information relating to the recovery of Jessica Heeringa. Fifteen thousand of the reward was donated by her employer, Exxon Mobil.

Anyone with information related to Jessica's disappearance is asked to call the Norton Shores, MI, Police Department at: 231-733-2691.

The organizers of Saturday's event would like to offer a special "thank you" to the following for their support and donations to the fundraiser: Larkin's Other Place, Daisy Floral, D.J ... A and W Disc Jockey's , Lowell Floral, The Barefoot Gardner, Subway, Jet's Pizza, Fazoli's, Papa Johns, El Mariachi, Mecican Grill, Canfields Plumbing, City Looks, East Town Salon, Riverbend East Salon, Shakedown Street, Spring Grove Smokey Mountain Tobacco Danielle's Beads, Sherri Veihl Talcott, Diane MaGraw Weemhoff, Yvonne Maurer, Deb Hartman, Tammy Patrick, Colleen Pelz, Bethanne Bouwman Cupp, Marge Bechtold Cherneski , Sheila Radeke Herrington, Cody Dykhuis, Karlene Bradford & family, Dan Sloma, Terri Nevins, Mary Kimbel. In addition, they want to thank the the "Help Find Jessica Heeringa" & "Find Jessica Heeringa" groups for all the dedication(s) they have made to help bring Jessica home.

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