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Major search underway for Starbucks barista who vanished

October 18, 2012|By Amy Hubbard
  • Whitney Heichel, a 21-year-old Starbucks barista in Gresham, Ore., is missing. Police are conducting a major search.
Whitney Heichel, a 21-year-old Starbucks barista in Gresham, Ore., is… (Gresham Police Department )

Police have provided a timeline in the disappearance of an Oregon woman who disappeared Tuesday between home and the Portland-area  Starbucks where she worked, a five-minute commute.

A major crimes team and 24 detectives are now searching for Whitney Heichel, of Gresham, Ore., according to the city's police department. 

Police say the young woman's Ford Explorer was found in a local Wal-Mart parking lot with its front passenger-side window smashed in.

Local media reported that searchers scoured a park, including riverbanks and brush, for Heichel on Wednesday, marking areas where broken window glass was found.  Heichel's husband told KATU.com that his wife went about her normal routine, left for work, "and then about 8:15 her boss called me."

Police give the following narrative:

6:45 a.m.: Heichel, 21, left her apartment for work.

7 a.m.: She failed to arrive at the start of her shift at Starbucks, where she works as a barista.

9:56 a.m.: Clint Heichel calls 911 to report his wife missing.

12:30 p.m.: Detectives verify that Heichel's ATM card was used at a local gas station at 9:14 a.m.

1 p.m.: Family and friends looking for Heichel find her car at a Wal-Mart with the window broken out.

Since then, an all-out search for Heichel has been launched, according to police, with two dozen detectives and the county major crimes unit tackling the case, as well as the state forensics crime lab, which helped to examine evidence from the Explorer.

A police spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times that a news conference would be held at 10 a.m. to go over details of the case. Clint Heichel is expected to make a statement at that time.

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amy.hubbard@latimes.com

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