Starbucks barista vanishes: Mom seeks public's help; husband weeps

In an emotional Thursday morning news conference, the mother of a missing Oregon woman spoke glowingly of Whitney Heichel, who vanished Tuesday morning on her way to work as a Starbucks barista.

Heichel, 21, went about her usual routine and left for work at 6:45 a.m., authorities say, but she never arrived for her 7 a.m. shift at the nearby Starbucks. 

According to police in the Portland-area suburb of Gresham, Ore., her ATM card was used at a gas station about two hours after she was supposed to have been at work. Subsequently, her black Ford Explorer was found by friends and family at a local Wal-Mart with its front passenger-side window broken.

Lorilei Ritmiller, Heichel's mother, talked of her daughter at the news conference, reported the Associated Press. Her daughter, she said, is known in her family as "Mama" because she's like a second mother to her siblings.

Heichel's husband, Clint, had been set to read a statement, a police spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times in an interview early Thursday. 

But at the conference, the Oregonian reports, he quickly broke down crying. Ritmiller put her arms around him.

At the news conference, police reportedly said that "property" and other evidence had been recovered at several locations, but they wouldn't go into detail.

The public was urged to call in with information at the tip line: (503) 618-2719.


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