Posts made in November 6th, 2010

A few questions answered, but more to ponder…

I was just alerted to this Channel 9 interview between Dan Rassier and Trish Van Pilsum. It was done in 2004, before Dan Rassier’s name was made available to the public. In the interview, his face is blurred-out and, I assume, his voice is disguised.

We also hear from the witness who arrived first on the scene and inadvertently left his tire tracks when he turned around in the Rassier’s driveway.

Transcript

It’s been nearly 15 years since Jacob Wetterling vanished near his St. Joseph home.

And he’s the man who says he has recently become a “suspect” in the Wetterling Investigation.

Stearns County authorities don’t use the word. That’s because of gaps early in the investigation. They haven’t been able to link him to the crime or rule the man out.

Trish Van Pilsum: “Did you have anything to do with Jacob’s disappearance?”

The Man: “I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

FOX 9 won’t identify this man because he hasn’t been arrested or charged. He lives near the abduction site. He was home alone on October 22, 1989. There is no one to confirm his whereabouts. Police questioned him the day after the abduction, more as a witness than a possible suspect.

The Man: “They needed to check me out. They said they had to check me out.”

They searched his car at work but not until later in the day.

The Man: “That morning when I left, I had a car full of …”

Trish Van Pilsum: “Boxes. Big boxes.”

The Man: “… and they never looked in my car. I mean it was that bad.”

They searched his property, too. But not until five days later.

The Man: “They didn’t come in the house that night. It could have been over with.”

Investigators, new to the case, agree important things were overlooked in the early days of the search. That there were just too many people and too many agencies involved.

More than 14 years passed. Why the renewed interest in this man now? The FOX 9 Investigators have learned that investigators now doubt one of the main theories of Jacob Wetterling’s disappearance. That theory: While Jacob, his brother, and a friend walked their bikes and scooter home from a convenience store, somebody got out of a car, grabbed Jacob, and fled in his car.

Stearns County investigators are steering away from the car, leaving their suspect on foot, and local. That fits with what the other boys said.

This is a copy of a statement Jacob’s best friend Aaron gave police.

[Investigator:] “Was there any vehicles or anything around at this point that you observed?” [Aaron Larson:] “Uh uh. Not that we could see.”

How did the car come into play? Remember the witness turned possible suspect? It was his account that placed a car at the scene that night. He said it turned around and sped away about the time Jacob disappeared.

The FOX 9 Investigators also have learned there was a car nearby that night. We found the driver. He is not a suspect.

Kevin: “It’s sad. It chokes me up. But what can I do. What could I have done.”

He’s a man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Kevin: “I never came forward. I figured I didn’t have to.”

Kevin was 21 at the time. He heard something on the scanner. Saw a police car speed by his house. Curious, he tried to follow the squad. He was there so fast there was no police crime scene tape around the bikes and scooter yet. He drove away and told a police officer what he’d seen.

Kevin: “He said, yeh we know all about that. I know about the bikes. And that was it. It was like I was bothering him. We backed out and left and that was it.”

Trish Van Pilsum: “He didn’t take your name or phone number.”

Kevin: “He didn’t take my name.”

Trish Van Pilsum: “He didn’t ask, did you see a man lurking around?”

Kevin: “Didn’t ask me a thing.”

Nor, it appears, did the officer pass along his conversation with Kevin to investigators. It strikes the new investigators now working on the case 14 years later as strange. It also strikes them as a huge problem. In fact, investigators didn’t know about Kevin at all until this October [2003]. This came about because he met a federal marshal at a party who urged Kevin to talk to the lead investigator of the Wetterling investigation.

Kevin: “He was really shocked. ‘Cause after I told him who I talked to, what I seen, he couldn’t believe he didn’t know about me. In reality, I could have been the kidnapper and they never would have found me.”

In fact, of the thousands and thousands of pages of leads, none places Kevin at the scene around the time of the kidnapping. A source close to the case said they wasted 14 years looking for him.

Trish Van Pilsum: “Kevin, do you think, ‘Boy if my information didn’t get passed along, what else was missed?’”

Kevin: “Yes. Who else knows something about the case they might not think was crucial.”

Kevin even heard the police were trying to track down the car using tire tracks.

Kevin: “I was scared. I got really scared.”

Kevin expected police to come to him. They never did.

Trish Van Pilsum: “So if they couldn’t find you, what were the odds that they could find the kidnapper.”

Kevin: “Exactly. I think about that all the time. It’s sad. A young kid like that you know, 14 years.”

Why didn’t he go to the police? He figured he’d gotten to the scene after everything was over. He doubted he had anything to add. And he didn’t want to get caught up in the widening net of the Wetterling search.

Kevin: “I knew they were looking for someone and I didn’t want to be put in the position of being a suspect.”

Now investigators believe the car is accounted for. The investigation narrows to a small area surrounding the abduction scene. And, specifically on one man. One of Jacob Wetterling’s neighbors.

The Man: “I’m not worried. I’m thinking they’re going to figure out I couldn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to do something like that.”

Investigators questioned him as recently as two weeks ago, February 7th [2004]. They took a sample of his DNA. Five days later they questioned his family and searched his computer files at home.

The Man: “I just have to hope they make sense out of it and not wreck my life.”

Remember he is the witness who placed a car at the scene. Later that night he heard a commotion. It was the search and it was in his yard. He went back to bed.

Trish Van Pilsum: “Why would you go to bed when a kid had just disappeared?”

The Man: “I wanted to get some sleep. I wasn’t going to waste my time.”

The man FOX 9 talked with may never be connected with the Jacob Wetterling kidnapping case.

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