The Jacob Wetterling Story Will Have an Ending
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Authorities in central Minnesota say the remains of Jacob Wetterling have been found.
The Stearns County Sheriff's Office says in a statement that Jacob's remains were identified on Saturday.
Jacob was 11 when he was kidnapped from a rural road on Oct. 22, 1989, near his home in St. Joseph, about 80 miles northwest of Minneapolis. No one has been arrested or charged in his abduction, though authorities named 53-year-old Danny Heinrich as a person of interest last year.
Heinrich was charged with multiple counts of child pornography, but was not charged in Jacob's abduction. He has denied involvement.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that Heinrich took authorities to a field in central Minnesota last week. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing case, said remains and other evidence were found.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and other officials are offering support to the family of Jacob Wetterling after his mother said the remains of the boy missing for nearly 27 years have been found.
In a statement, Dayton says Jacob's story "has touched the lives and hearts of Minnesotans for a generation." And he says he's praying for peace for the Wetterling family "and for all Minnesotans touched by this tragedy."
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has worked with Jacob's mother, Patty Wetterling, on missing children legislation. Klobuchar says the Wetterling family "and all who knew and loved Jacob are in our hearts today."
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, whose district includes the Wetterlings' hometown of St. Joseph, says Jacob's disappearance on Oct. 22, 1989, "shattered the innocence of all Minnesotans."
Here is the statement from the Stearns County Sheriff:
The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office today confirms that Jacob Wetterling’s remains have been located. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner and a forensic odontologist identified the remains as Wetterling’s earlier today. Additional DNA testing will be performed at the BCA. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the FBI, the Stearns County Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office are currently in the process of reviewing and evaluating new evidence in the Jacob Wetterling investigation. Authorities expect to be in a position to provide more detailed information early next week. We are asking for your patience and respect for the Wetterling family’s privacy until that time.
A timeline of events related to the abduction of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling of St. Joseph, Minnesota:
Oct. 22, 1989: Jacob Wetterling, 11, is abducted from a rural road as he rode bikes with his brother and a friend by a masked gunman near his home about 80 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
Oct. 26, 1989: Deputies on horseback and hundreds of people search for Jacob, but find nothing.
Oct. 29, 1989: About 225 National Guard troops and 80 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources workers unsuccessfully search for clues. Supporters of the boy's family release more than 1,000 white balloons after a church service.
December 1989: Investigators are deluged with tips after they release a new sketch of a suspect. Authorities also say they believe the man who kidnapped Jacob was responsible for the January 1989 abduction and sexual assault of a boy in nearby Cold Spring.
1990: Jacob's parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling, set up the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, which works to help communities and families prevent child exploitation. Patty Wetterling becomes a national advocate for missing children.
October 1990: An FBI spokesman says about 2,000 people have been interviewed. More than 700 people attend an anniversary vigil less than two miles from where Jacob was taken.
1994: Congress passes the Jacob Wetterling Act, legislation for a sex offender registry.
2004: Patty Wetterling runs as a Democrat against Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy in Minnesota's 6th District. She loses by 30,000 votes in her first political campaign but does not rule out a future run.
2006: Patty Wetterling again runs for Congress but loses to Republican Michele Bachmann.
2010: Investigators spend two days searching and digging at a farm near where Jacob Wetterling was last seen. The sheriff later says forensic tests on items taken from the farm show no link to the crime.
Oct. 29, 2015: Federal authorities say a Minnesota man is a "person of interest." Danny Heinrich, of Annandale, is arrested on unrelated child pornography charges. Heinrich denies involvement in Jacob's disappearance and has not been charged in the case.
Sept. 3, 2016: Authorities confirm that Jacob's remains have been found and positively identified. Additional DNA testing will be conducted.