Skip to main content

After 25 years, Wetterlings launch new effort to find missing son


It's been 25 years since Patty and Jerry Wetterling's son Jacob was abducted in central Minnesota, but they have not given up hope of finding him.

The Wetterlings, along with local law enforcement and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, are renewing their plea for help in finding out what happened to 11-year-old Jacob all those years ago. They launched a billboard campaign Tuesday, hoping to shake loose some new leads in the case, KSTP reports.

The six billboards are in place in and around St. Joseph, featuring Jacob’s picture from 1989, and one showing how he might look today. They ask people to call 1-800-THE-LOST with any information that could shed light on his disappearance. They will be up through the end of the month.

"It's a reminder that he's still out there. It is a call to action," said Patty Wetterling, according to KSTP.

Jacob Wetterling was biking with his brother and a friend on Oct. 22, 1989, when they were stopped by a masked gunman on a St. Joseph road. The other boys were told to run, but Jacob was taken and has not been seen or heard from since.

The case has generated more than 50,000 leads over the course of time, said Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Many of them came in recently after the case was featured on CNN's program "The Hunt," with John Walsh.

"If we get tips today, we treat this case as if it happened yesterday," Sanner said, according to the Pioneer Press. "We'll treat it with the same energy and enthusiasm as if it was 1 day old, not 25 years old."

The Wetterling case received new attention in June of this year when a Minnesota blogger raised questions about attacks on children in Paynesville in the mid-1980s and a possible connection to Jacob’s abduction.

Authorities rekindled the investigation into Jacob's disappearance, which led authorities to Delbert Huber, who from prison denied having any connection with Wetterling. Huber died a week later of natural causes.

Patty Wetterling said they will never stop looking for their son, according to KSTP.

"At what point do you give up?" she said. "I just couldn't do that."

Next Up

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man who threatened suicide by cop detained, hospitalized

Officers responded to the incident at around 1:40 a.m. Friday.

northbound remodel facebook

Northbound brewpub reopens with new look, revamped menu

It had been closed since October for the big remodel.

Snow, Hanley Falls

Latest storm track, snow forecast for weekend winter storm

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch.

gianni's wayzata heated patio

These Twin Cities restaurants have heated patios for outdoor winter dining

From bonfires to igloos, Twin Cities restaurants have you covered as temperatures drop.

Kirill Kaprizov

Kirill Kaprizov's slow start is a thing of the past

A potential sophomore slump has been erased with a three-point night against the Devils..

mpd aldi incident screengrab

Video shows MPD officer grab, throw Aldi customer

The department says the matter was referred to the Office of Police Conduct Review.

US Sec Defense Flickr - Joe Bide Nov 11 2021

Biden lays out wintertime plan to curb COVID's spread

It comes as the U.S. reported its second case of the omicron variant.

Willow River DOC

MN Dept. of Corrections offering $5K bonuses as it seeks to hire 200

The DOC is offering hiring bonuses for new employees and for referrals.