Jacob Wetterling's family has 'hope,' continues to plead for answers


The Wetterlings stood outside of their St. Joseph home – the same place they stood 26 years ago to plead for their son's return – speaking of the hope that one day they'll have answers about Jacob's disappearance.

It was the first time the Wetterlings addressed the public since an Annandale man was named a person of interest – but non a suspect – in their son's disappearance.

"We still don't know who took Jacob," Patty Wetterling told reporters gathered outside of her home Tuesday. "We have as many questions as you."

She and her husband Jerry pleaded with the public to come forward with any information they may have about the case, or other children who may have been victimized.

"That little piece of information, when added to other pieces of information, will help solve the puzzle and bring Jacob home," Jerry Wetterling said.

This embed is invalid

Charges against Heinrich

Daniel Heinrich, 52, was charged last Thursday with possessing and receiving child pornography. Heinrich, who was named a person of interest in Jacob's disappearance last week, was interviewed in 1989 and 1990 in connection with the Wetterling case, but never charged.

He has denied any involvement in Wetterling's disappearance.

Investigators had executed a search warrant at Heinrich's home in July seeking evidence in Jacob's 1989 disappearance, as well as the kidnapping and abuse of a 12-year-old boy in Cold Spring a few months earlier.

Officials didn't find evidence linking Heinrich to the Wetterling case, but they did discover images of child pornography, which led to the charges against him.

Investigators also announced that Heinrich's DNA was found on an article of clothing worn by the Cold Spring victim at the time of his abduction. Heinrich was arrested in connection with that case in 1990, but was released without being charged, the Pioneer Press reports. He will not be charged now either because the statute of limitations has run out, officials said.

At the time Jacob disappeared, Heinrich was living in nearby Paynesville. Between 1986 and 1988, eight attacks on young boys were reported within blocks of Heinrich's home, reports note.

Last year, officials announced they would take another look at whether Jacob’s abduction was linked to the Paynesville assault cases in the late 1980s.

Jacob's case

Jacob was 11 years old when he went missing. He was biking with his brother and friend on Oct. 22, 1989, in his hometown of St. Joseph when he was kidnapped by a masked man with a gun.

His story has captivated Minnesotans and people across the country, and changed the way law enforcement officials search for missing kids across the U.S.

It also prompted Jacob’s mother to work with families of other missing and exploited children. Even after 26 years, she has hope her son will be found. On Tuesday, she continued to ask the public to report any incidents of sexual abuse on children, which could help solve the mystery of Jacob's disappearance.

Since Jacob disappeared, investigators have followed upwards of 50,000 leads, the Star Tribune says, but no one has ever been named a suspect in the case.

“We will not rest until we bring Jacob home,” Minnesota BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said at a news conference last week.

The investigation into Jacob’s disappearance is active and ongoing. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Stearns County Sheriff’s Department at 320-259-3742.

Next Up

moose minnesota usfws - flickr

MN homeowner mistakes large tent for dead moose

They spotted two people on a security camera dragging the "moose" across a driveway.

Flickr - minneapolis police officer close-up belt camera - Tony Webster

What happens if Mpls. public safety question passes? City memo provides answers

The memo was sent to the mayor and council members Tuesday morning.


COVID-19 hits Minnesota Wild coaching staff

The Wild will be shorthanded for Tuesday night's game in Vancouver.

Anthony Edwards

Ant takes alpha role after bad loss: 'We need to lock the f*** in'

The Timberwolves' rising star was not happy after Monday's loss to the Pelicans.

parker eisinger

Lakeville football player diagnosed with cancer week before playoffs

The tenth-grader was diagnosed with a form of cancer most commonly found in people aged 65 and older.

University of Minnesota peeping tom suspect

Someone keeps trying to film showering women at U of M

The university has received three reports in the past two weeks.

john Fluevog shoes 1

John Fluevog Shoes closes its Uptown Minneapolis store

The brand could return to the Twin Cities one day.

sidecar drink

Sidecar — Town Hall's new cocktail lounge — is officially open in Minneapolis

It's the fifth Town Hall location, but the first to focus on cocktails.

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 9.10.30 AM

Here's where DFLers stand on Minneapolis' public safety ballot question

The question would create a Department of Public Safety and remove some requirements.

Arthur Kollie

Man pleads guilty to brutal murder of 14-year-old girl in Fargo

The 14-year-old girl was the victim of a random attack outside a Fargo strip mall.

Minneapolis Mayoral Candidates 2021 - jacob frey sheila nezhad kate knuth

Here's who has endorsed the frontrunners for Minneapolis mayor

Politicians and community groups are voicing their opinions.


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.