Muskegon County, MI - A convicted murderer, who chose to walk out of his trial without hearing impact statements from his victim's family, had to listen to their grief and anger anyway after deputies forced him to listen to it on the trip to prison.
The family of murder victim Rebekah Bletsch was shocked and outraged when the defense attorney for murderer Jeffrey Willis announced that Willis' "desire" was to not be present for the family's statements or the pronouncement of his sentence, according to MLive.
As Willis left the courtroom on Monday, Dec. 18, members of the crowd called him a "coward", and told him to "rot in hell."
In response, Willis blew a kiss to Bletsch's family members.
Josephson, her sister Nicole Winberg, and her mother Deborah Reamer, all gave statements after Willis left that included remembrances of Bletsch and her "vivacious personality."
They expressed their anger toward Willis, whom Josephson called "the monster of Muskegon."
Police believe she refused to get into Willis' van and that he wanted to sexually torture her before murdering her.
Willis was arrested after a missing teenager escaped, and reported being kidnapped on April 13, 2016.
At his trial, the prosecution argued that Willis intended to kidnap Bletsch so that he could rape, torture, and kill her, similar to videos that were found at Willis' home.
Thousands of downloaded videos depicting the kidnapping, torture, rape, and murder of women were found on computer hard drives at Willis' home after he was arrested.
Evidence of Bletsch's DNA was found on a pair of gloves and a dildo in the toolbox of Willis' van, along with various items of bondage, a handgun, syringes with insulin, gloves, Viagra, and lists of women's names and addresses.
He was sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole.
Muskegon County Sheriff Michael Poulin wasn’t about to let Willis get away without hearing about the pain he caused to the victim's family members.
Sheriff Poulin said he had a CD created from recordings of the victim impact statements delivered by Bletsch's family in court.
The sheriff gave the 25-minute disc of victim impact statements to the transport officers who were transporting Willis to the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson, where male inmates are initially quarantined by the Michigan Department of Corrections.
They played it for him five times during the transport.
Jessica Josephson, Bletsch's sister, said she was grateful that Sheriff Poulin had thought enough about the family, and others who grieved the loss of Bletsch, to make sure Willis heard their comments.
"It brings a little bit of peace, a little bit of comfort. I did want the opportunity to say it to his face ... but knowing he did get to hear it does help," Josephson said.
Sheriff Poulin said that he has not heard how Willis responded to hearing the disc.
"I don't find it that important that Jeffrey Willis heard what the family had to say, but that the family knew he heard what they said," Sheriff Poulin said.