Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Wetterlings help deliver message of hope, healing to Paynesville

Author:

The message Sunday night, to a community plagued with unanswered questions, was of hope and resilience.

About 150 people, some of them victims in a string of unsolved sexual assaults from nearly three decade ago, gathered in the Paynesville High School auditorium Sunday night to hear from Patty and Jerry Wetterling and other community members, WJON reports.

The Wetterling's son, Jacob, was kidnapped by a masked man with a gun in St. Joseph back in 1989. His family, his friends, and authorities don't know what happened. It was his 37th birthday earlier this year.

The meeting Sunday night, Patty Wetterling told attendees, was to give people a chance to talk to law enforcement and each other about everything that has happened, the St. Cloud Times reports.

Chief: Attacks do not define victims

It all comes in the wake of Danny Heinrich's arrest. He was taken into custody in late October on unrelated child porn charges, and was described as a “person of interest” in Jacob’s disappearance. Heinrich has denied any involvement.

Officials have also linked Heinrich to the January 1989 kidnapping and sexual assault of a 12-year-old Cold Spring boy through DNA, an incident that happened months before Jacob’s abduction. There were reports of several similar unsolved attacks in the Paynesville area around the same time.

"In some bizarre way, Paynesville and St. Joseph have been interconnected through all this," Jerry Wetterling said, according to KARE 11.

Among those that spoke Sunday was Paynesville Police Chief Paul Wegner, who said the attacks do not define the victims as people, and do not define "who we are as a community,” the West Central Tribune reports.

Said Patty Wetterling, according to the Star Tribune: “I want this to be about all of us healing. ... You're not alone, we're not alone."

At one point during the meeting, victims of the attacks were invited to speak and ask questions, the St. Cloud Time reports.

The Wetterlings also asked anyone with information, even seemingly little tips, to come forward, FOX 9 says.

Speaking with media members afterward, Patty Wetterling said they still need answers, the Pioneer Press reports.

"We do not know this man, but many people in that room do," she said. "Are there still leads that are out there?"

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.59.30 AM

Edina police warn of recent burglary trend targeting garages and vehicles

The Edina Police Department is increasing patrols in affected neighborhoods in response to the trend.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.03.06 AM

Charges: Man shot Uber Eats driver making a delivery in Cottage Grove

Otis Donnell Shipp was charged with second-degree attempted murder after turning himself in on Wednesday.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.36.14 AM

Waterfront hotel in Duluth sustains damage in kitchen fire

Authorities estimate the damage at around $75,000.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.15.18 AM

Large groups of thieves target 2 Twin Cities Best Buys on Black Friday

It bears similarities to the flash-mob style thefts seen recently in California.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves' winning streak snapped at five games

The Wolves' bid for their longest winning streak since 2014 came up short.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Teen arrested over fatal shooting of 5-year-old boy in Brooklyn Park

Police say the teen was filming a social media video while handling a gun.

Joe Biden

President Biden coming to Minnesota to promote Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Tuesday's trip follows passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

Kirill Kaprizov

Kaprizov gets into the holiday spirit to rout Jets

Kirill Kaprizov's four points led the Wild to a 7-1 victory.

Kirk Cousins

Coller: Cure to Vikings' disrupted season lies in an explosive passing game

The Vikings go to San Francisco knowing that a win would be a huge boost to their playoff hopes.

unsplash football helmet ground

Judge upholds star QBs suspension for state championship game

Sam Backer, of Chatfield Senior High, won't be allowed to play in Friday's title game.

Related

#11forJacob: Watch the Wetterlings' heartfelt message to the community

Jacob's parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling, released a video through the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center.

Patty Wetterling: 'We are deeply grieving'

As the Wetterlings continue grieving the death of Jacob, Patty Wetterling says there are some things people can do to bring them comfort.