The remains of Jacob Wetterling were found in central Minnesota on Saturday. The announcement gave closure to the parent’s grievance and uncertainty lasting almost 30 years.
Young Jacob was kidnapped in October of 1989, as he was wandering in the proximity of his parent’s house in St. Joseph, Minneapolis. Apparently, the kidnapper was an unidentified masked gunman.
One of Minnesota’s most painful child abductions
Stearns County Sheriff’s Office released a statement explaining that “Jacob Wetterling’s remains have been located.” The identification process had a forensic odontologist identify the remains alongside a Ramsey County medical examiner.
Authorities stated that they would continue to research the incident and that DNA tests will take place to find new evidence that may lead to the kidnapper’s apprehension. Stearns County Sheriff’s Office let the public know that more details will be available early next week.
The tip came from an anonymous source who led police officers to the place where Jacob was buried. Apparently, there was evidence scattered throughout the location surrounding Jacob’s burial site.
The masked gunman attacked Jacob when he was riding a bicycle with his brother and a mutual friend. The incident occurred on October 22 of 1989, and as Jacob was being abducted, the man told the other boys to flee the scene. After the incident, Jacob has not been seen since, despite intense search efforts and missing posters offering rewards for his appearance.
A person of interest with a history of child abuse
Authorities suspect that Danny Heinrich is to blame for the crime. 53-year-old Heinrich resides in Annandale and has repeatedly denied any involvement in Jacob’s abduction. Heinrich was recently charged with 25 federal counts of child pornography, for which he is set to stand trial in October this year.
According to the FBI, Heinrich matches the suspect’s description and also has been linked to similar assaults to boys located in Paynesville a couple of years before Jacob’s attack, which may have been his last.
A boy was sexually assaulted in Cold Springs nine months before Jacob’s abduction. Heinrich’s DNA was found on the boy’s sweater, and he was known to possess camouflage clothing and pictures of young boys in underwear. Authorities surveyed Heinrich’s shoes and car tires, and they were considered to be consistent with the track marks found where Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped.
Patty Wetterling, Jacob’s mother, stated to Associated Press that she and her husband Jerry were broken, as the remains of his young son had been found. They always expected Jacob to come home safe and to be found alive.
Patty Wetterling became an advocate for child kidnappings, as a law on sex offender registries was passed by Congress in 1994 in Jacob’s eventful memory. Jacob’s parents founded the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, which provides support to families and communities to deal with child sex offenders and abductions.
Although the finding of Jacob’s remains revived a long-held grief on the people of Minnesota, it may finally lead to a closure in a painful chapter in his story. But even if the perpetrator is caught, Minnesota would have been deprived of a young boy’s innocent life.
Source: Lancaster Online