Skip to main content

#11forJacob: Watch the Wetterlings' heartfelt message to the community

Jacob's parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling, released a video through the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center.

Credit: The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center

The Wetterlings are thanking the community for their support over the past 27 years, especially in the weeks following the discovery of their son Jacob.

Patty and Jerry Wetterling released a video statement through the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center Tuesday, which you can watch above.

"We have been strengthened by the love and support of so many in our search for Jacob. After such a long time, the suddenness of the answer, the horrific last minutes or hour of Jacob's life, and the finality of his death have been so very hard for us to process," Patty says in the message.

On Sept. 6 – days after Danny Heinrich led investigators to Jacob's remains – he admitted in open court that on Oct. 22, 1989, he kidnapped Jacob, sexually assaulted him, killed him, and then buried his body in Paynesville.

"Jacob's kidnapping gripped the St. Joseph community, the state, and the entire nation in 1989. Our family has been lifted up and carried through the agony of the search and difficult life markers – graduations, family weddings, and the loss of our loved ones," Jerry says.

And when Jacob's remains were finally found, Jerry Wetterling said it was hard for them to carry on with their daily lives – it was hard to sleep, eat think and work – but they had to find a way to honor their son and "strengthen Jacob's Hope for a better and safer world for children."

Continuing Jacob's legacy

Since Jacob disappeared nearly 27 years ago, the Wetterlings have pushed to make the world a better place for kids. They founded the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, and became advocates to prevent the exploitation of children.

Last month, the Wetterlings encouraged people to continue Jacob's legacy by living their life following 11 traits Jacob believed in, such as being fair and kind. And since then, many youth sports teams and community members have been sharing how they're living #11forJacob.

"Jacob believed in a world where children have the right to grow up safe and follow their dream. That's what we're fighting for. There's work to do. We need to find the children who are still missing and we need to build a world where children are not afraid," Patty says in the video.

32 missing children in Minnesota

There are currently 32 missing children in Minnesota, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Every year hundreds of thousands of kids go missing in the United States, with FBI statistics showing there were 460,699 reports of missing kids in 2015. (That figure doesn't mean the person wasn't found safe – it's just how many missing persons reports there were.)

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children assisted law enforcement with more than 13,700 cases of missing children nationwide last year – 86 percent of them were endangered runaways (about one in five runaways are victims of child sex trafficking), while only 1 percent were non-family abductions.

For more information on the Wetterlings' efforts to protect children, click here.

Next Up

carvana vending machine

Carvana seeking to build vehicle vending machine in Twin Cities

The online car dealership submitted a letter of intent to buy land in the metro to build a fulfillment center.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Coller: New Vikings GM Adofo-Mensah needs to be ruthless

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah needs to make some big, difficult decisions, writes Matthew Coller.

Patrick Graham

Report: Vikings to interview Giants' Patrick Graham for head coach

Graham coached with the Patriots under Bill Belichick for six years.

floor and decor screengrab

Home brand plans 'flagship' store in Maple Grove AMC Theater space

This will be the company's first Minnesota location.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, January 28

The state is still in the process of catching up with 10,000 yet-to-be processed tests.

Bryan Acuna

Twins sign 16-year-old brother of Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr.

Bryan Acuna is one of the top international prospects, according to MLB.com.

Christopher Endicott

Authorities: Former principal who died in MN jail took his own life

He was found unresponsive in the jail last November.

ambulance

Sheriff: 2 injured, drunk driver arrested after head-on crash

The allegedly drunk driver wasn't injured in the crash.

dirty_jobs

Newest 'Dirty Jobs' ep. has Mike Rowe scraping shmutz in MN

He'll scrape and clean a "special kind of shmutz" from the bottom of an escalator at a local hockey arena.

Related

Patty Wetterling: 'We are deeply grieving'

As the Wetterlings continue grieving the death of Jacob, Patty Wetterling says there are some things people can do to bring them comfort.

Porch lights left on across the world in remembrance of Jacob Wetterling

For 27 years, Minnesotans have left their porch lights on every Oct. 22 for Jacob Wetterling, who went missing on that date in 1989.

'Our love for you will never die': Wetterling family remembers Jacob at memorial service

Thousands of mourners joined the Wetterling family to remember the beloved 11-year-old.

This year October 22 will be Jacob Wetterling Day in Minnesota

Gov. Dayton declared the anniversary of the 1989 abduction 'Jacob Wetterling Day.' A memorial service is being held Sunday in St. Joseph.

Remains discovered are Jacob Wetterling, medical examiner confirms

Jacob Wetterling's remains have been found, nearly 27 years after the boy disappeared, the Stearns County Sheriff's Office confirmed Saturday afternoon.

'I want to say Jacob, I'm so sorry': Patty Wetterling after the confession

Just minutes after a 53-year-old Minnesota man detailed how he kidnapped, assaulted and killed her son almost 27 years ago, Patty Wetterling spoke.

Danny Heinrich, who admitted to killing Jacob Wetterling, gets 20 years in prison

Danny Heinrich admitted to killing Jacob Wetterling in exchange for fewer charges.