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Jacob Wetterling abduction: Investigators take new look at similar cases

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The investigation into the unsolved disappearance of central Minnesota boy Jacob Wetterling is getting some new attention, in part due to the footwork of a blogger who has been looking into the 25-year-old case, WCCO reports.

On Oct. 22, 1989, Wetterling, then 11 years old, was abducted by a man wearing a mask as he and two other boys were riding their bikes on a road in St. Joseph, Minn. The man ordered the boys to throw their bikes into a ditch and lie down on the ground, and he took Wetterling with him. Wetterling has never been found.

WCCO recently spoke to Joy Baker, the blogger who's written about the Wetterling case, who said in a recent post that at least six boys were attacked and sexually assaulted in Paynesville, a nearby town, two years before Wetterling was kidnapped.

Earlier in 1989, a 12-year-old Cold Spring boy named Jared was also abducted and assaulted not far from where Jacob was taken. Jared was released by his attacker.

At the time, law enforcement officials didn't connect the crimes.

There are some similarities to the cases, according to Baker: The Paynesville attacks occurred at night; the victims were all boys of a similar age; some of them were riding bikes when they were attacked; the attacker sometimes wore a mask; he had a low, gruff voice; and he threatened to use a weapon.

(The photo at right shows what Wetterling might look like today, at the age of 35)

Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner said authorities have always known about the Paynesville cases and investigated them years ago. They are now taking another look at them to see if there are any possible connections to Jacob's disappearance and Jared's abduction, KARE 11 reports.

As to why the cases weren't more closely connected at the time, Sanner said back in 1989, small town law enforcement agencies often acted independently, and didn't have some of the tools that investigators commonly use now.

“We can’t look back. We are actively investigating these cases now," he told WCCO.

Sanner is asking anyone who might have information to call his department at 320-251-4240.

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