Skip to main content

Jacob Wetterling: FBI agent recalls arrest, attempt to charge Heinrich in 1989

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The FBI agent who led the Jacob Wetterling investigation is speaking publicly about the 1989 arrest of Danny Heinrich, who last month was identified as a "person of interest" in the 11-year-old's abduction.

Former FBI supervisor Al Garber spoke to KARE 11 this week, explaining the circumstances of Heinrich's 1989 arrest following the kidnapping and sexual assault of a 12-year-old boy in Cold Spring in January 1989 – nine months before Jacob was taken.

Heinrich was arrested last month on child pornography charges, and DNA found during the arrest has been linked with the Cold Spring assault. Authorities believe the person who carried out that attack to be responsible for Jacob's abduction and potentially several similar assaults in the Paynesville area in the 1980s.

Garber told the TV station that Heinrich was under intense scrutiny in 1989 over his possible involvement in the Cold Spring case and that investigators built up enough information to arrest him.

However, his questioning yielded little fruit, with Garber saying Heinrich struck him as "somebody who wouldn't talk, who wouldn't say anything," and that he eventually asked for a lawyer, which "shut down the interview."

He was released without charge and put under surveillance in the hope he would "trip up," KARE notes, but it was eventually concluded there wasn't enough to charge him with the assault, nor later with Jacob's abduction.

Speaking with WCCO, Garber admits they could have waited to have compiled more evidence before arresting Heinrich, despite the best efforts of investigators, and says he hopes the latest developments in the case can yield some tangible results.

"In my whole career investigating crimes, evidence is what counts," he told the TV station. "Whatever else that people see — emotions, logic, common sense — that’s good, but it’s not evidence. So I’m hoping that this is their first step. They proved other crimes. I’m hoping that they’re going to be able to find the evidence that either he did it, or he didn’t do it."

WCCO has also this week reported on a link between Jacob's abduction from St. Joseph and a burglary and arson at nearby property a few weeks later that Heinrich is believed to have had links to. You can read more on that here.

Heinrich, of Annandale, remains in custody on child pornography charges following his arrest last month and a subsequent court appearance.

Next Up

unnamed

Walker, The Current announce end of Rock the Garden festival

The Walker Art Center and Minnesota Public Radio announced the festival will retire so the organizations can dream up new events.

Screen Shot 2022-09-28 at 9.05.52 AM

Able Seedhouse + Brewery in NE Minneapolis to close

The brewery and its onsite food truck, Animales Burger Co., will both be open for their last day on Saturday.

Lake Minnetonka

Police investigate spate of car break-ins on south Lake Minnetonka shore

The South Lake Minnetonka Police Department received reports that cars in Shorewood and Excelsior were broken into Tuesday morning.

ambulance

1 dead, 3 injured in crash involving tractor and SUV

The man driving the tractor was killed in the crash.

University of minnesota sign

U of M gives some students 50% off meals for September after complaints

Students have complained about an array of issues surrounding dining halls.

image

Gallery: Sprawling estate near Superior National Forest listed for $2.9M

The property has been in the same family for over 60 years.

Screen Shot 2022-09-27 at 2.51.49 PM

Surgery clinic proposed to replace 111-year-old farmhouse in Eagan

A developer is proposing to transform the remnant farm property.

Hurricane Ian

Why Hurricane Ian could be catastrophic in Florida

Hurricanes are the atmosphere’s biggest show of force and energy, and Hurricane Ian is no exception.

image

Suspect arrested after man and dog shot on St. Paul's East Side

The shooting happened around 12:45 p.m. Tuesday.

MissingBemidjiTeenBCA

Bemidji police appeal to find missing teenager

Tahlia Poitra was last seen Wednesday.

PacoAndLime

Crisp & Green owner launches new chain, with 12 MN locations planned

Steele Brands already owns and operates Crisp & Green and Stalk & Spade.

Related

Danny Heinrich admits to sexually assaulting, killing Jacob Wetterling

Danny Heinrich admitted he assaulted and then killed Jacob Wetterling the night he disappeared.