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'Person of interest' in Wetterling disappearance has criminal history

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Federal authorities are calling Daniel Heinrich of Annandale a "person of interest" in the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling.

Heinrich, 52, is facing charges of child pornography after authorities said they found pornographic images of boys during a July search of his home. Prosecutors say investigators also found hours of videos of neighborhood boys delivering newspapers, riding bicycles and playing in public playgrounds or in sports activities.

The U.S. Attorney's office says they also have DNA evidence linking Heinrich to the abduction of another boy who – like Wetterling – was abducted in Stearns County in 1989. Prosecutors say Heinrich's DNA was found on an article of clothing worn by the victim of a case in Cold Spring.

Wetterling was abducted in St. Joseph later that year.

Investigators who arrived at Heinrich's home in July were searching for information and evidence related to the two abductions, which they have said for years may have been connected.

Who is Danny Heinrich?

Heinrich now lives in Annandale but in 1989 his home was in Paynesville, about a 30 minute drive from St. Joseph.

WCCO notes that Heinrich dropped out of high school in his junior year and later joined the National Guard.

His known criminal history includes:

  • A DWI conviction from 1982
  • A misdemeanor conviction for burglary in 1984
  • Another DWI arrest in 1986

According to the Star Tribune, Heinrich has filed for bankruptcy twice, once in 2003 then again in 2011.

One of his neighbors in Annandale told WCCO that when agents were searching his home in July, Heinrich said he'd been questioned about the Wetterling abduction years ago and was released, adding that he "thought that was all done and in the past."

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Another neighbor in Annandale told KARE 11 Heinrich was "kind of a hermit," who did not often leave his house. She said that in the two years she'd lived next door to him, she never suspected anything was amiss until investigators arrived to search the home this summer.

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