Skip to main content

25 years after Jacob's abduction, Wetterlings carry on amid pain

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Wednesday marks the 25th anniversary of the abduction of Jacob Wetterling.
In the intervening quarter-century, Jacob's mother has become known as a tireless advocate for the cause of finding those who are reported missing.

But Patty Wetterling tells the St. Cloud Times she knows the disappearance of her 11-year-old son in 1989 had an impact that went far beyond the family, citing the effect on Jacob's sixth-grade classmates in St. Joseph. "It changed their lives, completely," she says. "Clearly, we were the center of the storm. But the victims were all over."

The Times spoke with one of those former classmates, Alison Feigh, who remembers seeing a sapling planted in St. Cloud the following spring and dedicated to Jacob and other missing children. The ash tree is now about 30 feet tall and Feigh is currently the program manager of the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center.

The Center works to educate families with safety information to help prevent the exploitation of children. It also maintains a web page featuring some of the many people currently listed as missing in the U.S.

As WCCO reports, Patty Wetterling spoke Monday at an event called the Squeaky Wheel Tour, which stopped in Minneapolis as part of an effort that uses music to raise awareness of those who are missing.

This embed is invalid

The Squeaky Wheel Tour was inspired by the disappearance of Gina Bos on October 17, 2000.

KARE 11 reports Bos was a musician who was last seen leaving an open mic night in Lincoln, Nebraska. Bos' sister, Jannel Rap organized the Squeaky Wheel Tour as a way to shed light on the missing, including Jacob Wetterling.

While Patter Wetterling has spent plenty of time in front of cameras since Jacob's abduction, including a Congressional campaign, her husband Jerry has been more private.

But Jerry Wetterling showed the Star Tribune the walk that he takes twice a week – tracing the route that Jacob took on the evening he was last seen, and ending at a rock where he takes a moment to "put out some extra Jacob vibes."

On October 22, 1989, Jacob was with his younger brother, Trevor, and friend Aaron Larson when they rode their bikes to a convenience store to rent a video. On their way home a gunman confronted them, ordering them to lay face-down in a ditch. He ordered Trevor and Aaron to run off into the woods without looking back.

Aaron Larson tells FOX 9 that night not only left him with unanswered questions and guilt, it shaped his identity. "How come he took Jacob? How come it wasn't me? It's something you live with," he says.

This embed is invalid

The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center is asking people to do something on Oct. 22 to create hope and light in the world in honor of Jacob.

Next Up

Jason Hackett

New face joining KARE 11's 'Sunrise' morning show

Jason Hackett will be joining Alicia Lewis and Guy Brown on KARE 11's morning show.

Screen Shot 2022-11-30 at 4.04.09 PM

Armed robbery suspect sought in two south metro investigations

The incidents took place at credit unions in Savage and Apple Valley.


Former Twin Cities plastic surgeon charged with sex crimes

Christopher Kovanda is accused of inappropriately touching woman under the guise of providing medical care.

Screen Shot 2022-11-15 at 4.23.26 PM

Minnesota man accused of murder in Chicago is arrested in Alabama

A 26-year-old man from a small town on the Iowa border is accused of murdering a Greyhound bus employee.


Support for Shakopee Public Schools employee diagnosed with cancer

The media specialist has been transitioned to hospice care recently.


Big November snowstorms uncommon in MN, but snowfall is increasing

This week's 8.4 inches at MSP Airport was one of the biggest November storms in the Twin Cities since 1991.


Minnesota nurses take vote on whether to hold second strike

The results will be determined Wednesday night.

unsplash medical marijuana

OCD, irritable bowel syndrome added to MN's medical marijuana list

They are the two latest qualifying medical conditions for Minnesota's marijuana program.

Screen Shot 2022-11-30 at 9.27.45 AM

Fundraiser created for family-owned Cô Tu' Oriental Cuisine after shooting

Support from the community will go towards medical expenses and overhead costs for the restaurant.

Erica Shameka Roberts

Police: Minnesota murder suspect arrested in Texas

Erica Roberts has been on the run since March.


Jackknifed semis close I-35 northbound near Faribault

There are icy conditions across Minnesota