Skip to main content

Citing privacy concerns, Wetterlings file restraining order to prevent release of Jacob files

The files were due to be released on Monday.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

The Wetterling family has taken out a temporary restraining order preventing the release of more than 10,000 investigative documents relating to the disappearance and murder of Jacob Wetterling.

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office was due to release some 56,000 pages of documents accumulated over 27 years since the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling in 1989, but has shelved the release following the filing of the privacy lawsuit.

In a press release, Jerry and Patty Wetterling said they're filing the suit to protect their family's privacy by preventing "disclosure of personal information that our lawyers tell us is private."

"We survived living through this once and choose not to live through it again," the statement reads. "We are moving forward not backward."

The Wetterling's lawyers, Kelley Walter & Scott, said the lawsuit asks a judge to review "a very small proportion" of the documents that were due to be made public under Minnesota law now that the case has been closed, because the documents "violate the Wetterlings' constitutionally protected privacy."

"Nothing that we’re asking to be protected is germane to the central facts of this crime, neither does this information relate to the public’s interest in the transparent operation of government," the lawyers say.

"This case has gone on for a long time. We certainly can take a few more days or weeks to make sure the Wetterlings aren’t victimized again."

Jacob's body was found last year after police were led to it by Danny Heinrich, who admitted to abducting, sexually assaulting and killing the 11-year-old in 1989.

Stearns County has confirmed it will no longer release the documents on Monday due to the pending litigation.

The Wetterling family statement

Our family has survived unfathomable pain and challenges since October 22, 1989 when our son Jacob was abducted. The journey catapulted us through uncharted territory for our family, the entire Minnesota family who adopted us, law enforcement, the media who covered it and many, many victims.

The sheriff, many agents and investigators, the Stearns County Attorney and US Attorney’s office locked up a dangerous predator who caused so much harm to so many for so long. Let the blame be on the man who did this. We survived living through this once and choose not to live through it again. We are moving forward not backward.

To protect our family’s privacy we have filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent disclosure of personal information that our lawyers tell us is private. We can choose to not live in the darkness for one more moment of one more day.

We are continuing to work to honor Jacob and the world he believed in. We ask that we all turn our energy towards preventing any other child from being a victim of sexual assault. Let us provide children with better tools and mentor them to build healthy relationships. Let us concentrate our energy on the way the world could be if we all embrace and work to support the eleven traits that Jacob embodies:

Be fair

Be kind

Be understanding

Be honest

Be thankful

Be a good sport

Be a good friend

Be joyful

Be generous

Be gentle with others

Be positive

Jacob taught us all how to live, how to love, how to laugh and oh how hard we have cried. We love you Jacob and your spirit is alive and strong in our hearts and minds today and every day

Next Up


Ryan Poles picking Chicago creates battle of the rebuilds with Vikings

Both of the Vikings' GM finalists land in the same division looking to return to relevancy.

David Ortiz

Twins congratulate David Ortiz on HOF induction, it ends badly

Twins fans haven't forgotten the biggest mistake in franchise history.

Snowmobile tracks Any Arthur Flickr

Who left the burnt snowmobile on a frozen Minnesota lake?

There wasn't much left beyond the frame and a few other large, metal parts.

T Kline Robbinsdale City Council

Charges: Drunk council member fled police on wrong side of Hwy. 100

The complaint alleges he caused a wrong-way crash, then drove around an officer that tried to stop him.


What does the future hold for the Vikings at linebacker?

Anthony Barr is hitting free agency, and Eric Kendricks is approaching age 30

vehicle car

String of vehicle thefts in St. Paul, most left running unattended

The department is urging people not to leave their car running unattended.

kid hospital doctor

Child COVID hospitalizations reach pandemic-high in northern MN

As omicron surges, more kids are ending up in the hospital.

ice fishing close unsplash

'It's disgusting': Anglers dumping sewage on to popular ice fishing lake

A local CO told Bring Me The News it's people in newer, RV-style wheel houses.

Alejandro Rios and Michael Steward

Reward offered for information on 2021 double fatal shooting in St. Paul

It's been a year since Alejandro Rios and Michael Stewart were found dead on the sidewalk.


Jacob Wetterling files must be released, judge rules

Minnesota media had challenged the ruling preventing the files' release.

Jacob Wetterling case files to be released next week

The release of the files has been subject to legal challenges.

Wetterling family makes statement ahead of release of Jacob case file

The investigative documents will go public on Thursday.

Wetterlings given more time to fight release of 'intensely personal' case files

A judge granted an extension because "new issues" have arisen.

Wetterling case files reveal bungled response to Jacob's abduction

Tens of thousands of documents have been released on Thursday.

MN media groups intervene in Wetterling lawsuit, call for release of Jacob case files

The Wetterling family has until Friday to tell a judge which information they want holding back.

FBI and sheriff's office continue spat over Wetterling investigation

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office hit back after a former FBI agent held a press conference.

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.