Heather Mae Kelley

Kelley, circa 2022; Kelley's thigh tattoo; Carlos Vance Watts Jr.

  • Missing Since 12/10/2022
  • Missing From Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 06/18/1987 (36)
  • Age 35 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'8 - 5'10, 125 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A silver heart necklace.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Blonde hair, brown eyes. Kelley's ears are pierced. She has the following tattoos: a lion/rose on her right forearm, a dream catcher on her left forearm, a two roses and a heart-shaped locked on her left thigh, and a tattoo on her right ankle. A photo of the thigh tattoo is posted with this case summary.

Details of Disappearance

Kelley was last seen on December 10, 2022. She told her family she was going to visit her boyfriend in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan. They are known to have been at The Park Club of Kalamazoo, where the boyfriend worked. At 10:20 p.m. she called her children and said she would be home soon, but she never arrived and has never been heard from again.

The next day, her truck was found abandoned on East Michigan Avenue near Sprinkle Road in Comstock Township, Michigan. It had been set on fire and there was a small hole in the driver's window. Inside it were indications of violence, including a large amount of Kelley's blood and long human hair. In a field about half a mile away was some clothing, linked to Kelley with DNA: women's underwear, women's jeans, boots and a durag.

At the time of Kelley's disappearance, her boyfriend, Carlos Vance Watts Jr., was staying at a local halfway house run by the Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement Program (KPEP). He had been sent there after his release from prison on a 2010 federal drug conviction which included a murder-for-hire plot. He was questioned by the police about Kelley's case on December 12.

Shortly afterwards, he cut off his ankle monitor and ran away from the halfway house. He was arrested on December 14 and charged with felony escape, even though he tried to argue that he ran away only because Kelley's brother had threatened him and he felt unsafe. In 2023 he pleaded guilty to escape, then asked to withdraw the guilty plea.

A photo of Watts is posted with this case summary. His cellular phone was turned off on the night of Kelley's disappearance, and the next day, he requested a new phone number. His roommate at the halfway house noted Watts had deep scratches on his chest and back on the night Kelley disappeared.

In January 2024, Watts was charged with a count of open murder in Kelley's disappearance. Authorities believe he killed her just hours before he escaped from the halfway house. His DNA, along with Kelley's, was found on the durag and jeans that were left near her burned and bloodstained car. He is awaiting trial.

Kelley left behind eight children, who are now all in the care of her brother and sister-in-law. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.

Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 12, 2023; casefile added.