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Wetterling investigation podcast wins top broadcasting award

"In the Dark" looked at mistakes made in the 27-year investigation into Jacob Wetterling's disappearance.

A nine-part podcast on the investigation into Jacob Wetterling's disappearance has been honored with broadcasting's most prestigious prize, the Peabody Award.

"In the Dark" by APM Reports won in the Radio/Podcast category, the Peabody's Board of Jurors announced Tuesday.

The series looks back at the 27-year investigation into what happened to Wetterling, the 11-year-old who was snatched off a central Minnesota road in 1989.

In their statement on "In the Dark" Peabody's jurors complimented the "immaculate storytelling talent and journalistic precision" that were used to examine why it took so long to solve the crime.

Podcast released as truth was revealed

In a coincidence of timing, the first episodes of "In the Dark" came out just as the mystery of what happened to Wetterling was finally being revealed.

As part of a plea deal on a child porn charge, Danny Heinrich confessed in court last September that he had kidnapped, assaulted, and killed the boy.

Madeline Baran, the lead reporter and host of the podcast, tells MPR News one reason "In the Dark" still worked is that it never set out to solve the Wetterling case. Instead, it focused on mistakes law enforcement had made in their investigation.

"In the Dark" becoming a series

Baran had already won a Peabody for her coverage for MPR of a clergy sex abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Now she's working on a second season of "In the Dark," which APM Reports is turning into an investigative series.

APM Reports is the investigative arm of American Public Media, which is also the parent company of MPR.

"In the Dark" was one of 11 Peabody winners for news and public service announced on Tuesday.

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