Posts made in November 14th, 2010

Was Jacob’s abduction “a perfect storm?”

I have a few more thoughts about the Jacob Wetterling case. After this, I’m hoping to move on to a new mystery – a happy one with a happy ending. Surely there must be a happy mystery that exists somewhere. If you know of such a thing, let me know.

(New here? Start from the beginning…)

Several people have wondered what the weather was like the night Jacob was abducted. I wondered the same thing, so on the day I drove through St. Joseph a few weeks ago, I made a stop at the St. Cloud Library on my way home. I wanted to check the microfilm for the local newspaper on the day after Jacob was abducted (October 23, 1989) to see if I could find any information that hadn’t been included in recent news reports. Click here to read the article.

3rd quarter moonAs for the weather… here’s the skinny. After making a copy of the October 23, 1989 newspaper article, I rolled back the microfilm to one day earlier so I could look at the weather report from October 22, the actual day Jacob was abducted. It had been a clear, beautiful day for late October, with a high near 70 degrees. The evening sky was clear with a waning moon in its third quarter. That means it was a half moon; the full moon had been one week prior.

That being said, the question rolling around in my head was… even though the boys said they never saw a car, could a car have been parked in the Rassiers’ driveway a little further down, so the boys couldn’t see it in the dark?

In 2003, the investigators discounted the “getaway car” theory when a local resident came forward to admit the tire tracks found by police in the Rassier’s driveway that night were most likely his. But why were authorities so quick to discount this theory and instead, focus on the “local-resident-who-escaped-on-foot theory?” Was it because it was Dan Rassier, himself, who’d been the one to tell police he’d seen a car turn around in his driveway that night, and then speed away at about the same time Jacob was abducted?

If Rassier witnessed the car from inside his house, that must mean the car pulled all the way into his property to turn around. That’s because you can’t see the end of the driveway from the house; it’s hidden by trees/woods. If I understand it correctly, the local resident (Kevin) who inadvertently left his tire tracks in the driveway that night, told Trish Van Pilsum from FOX 9 News that he had simply pulled in, backed up, and driven away. Wouldn’t that mean he didn’t go all the way into the property? So, if Rassier is telling the truth, doesn’t that mean there had to be another car that night… someone besides Kevin? (If you didn’t see Trish Van Pilsum’s interview, read my previous post).

I re-visited this “getaway-car-parked-in-the-Rassier-driveway theory” one more time. Even though Aaron and Trevor said they didn’t see a car that night, could there have been one parked halfway up the driveway, away from the road so the boys couldn’t see it, yet before the curve, where Rassier would have seen it from the house? Could someone have been parked in the Rassiers’ driveway that night, waiting for the boys to return from the Tom Thumb? Was it so dark that night that the boys wouldn’t have seen a car in the driveway?

At first, I thought no way. You’d think a half moon would be pretty bright. Surely if a car had been parked on that driveway, only 20 yards away, at least one of the boys would have seen it. Right? But, here’s something I learned about a third quarter moon. It rises at midnight and sets at noon the following day. That means, at 9:15pm, when Jacob was abducted, there was no moonlight at all. The moon hadn’t even risen yet, so the sky was completely dark.

So… was it a stalker-stranger who abducted Jacob and escaped in a getaway car that he’d stashed in the Rassiers’ driveway? To me, this scenario seems highly unlikely since all the elements of the abduction would have had to have fallen together perfectly. The boys had never been allowed to go to the Tom Thumb after dark before. If a stranger had been stalking Jacob at his hockey tryouts earlier that day, and/or skulking around at the Tom Thumb earlier that afternoon, what are the chances he’d be so lucky that Jacob would come strolling along, out for the first time after dark, on a moonless night, when his parents just happened to be away at a dinner party? A perfect storm? I doubt it.

The person who abducted Jacob KNEW he’d be returning down that dark road within 30 minutes or so. He knew the Tom Thumb plan. It seems that a stalker-stranger who just happened-upon three young boys out after dark would strike while the iron was hot, like in the Cold Spring case. After all, without knowing the boys, or where they were heading, wouldn’t the stalker-stranger logically assume they were just on a one way trip… either back home or to a friend’s house?

However, this person KNEW the boys would be making a return trip to the Wetterling home. He knew where the Wetterling home was, and he waited for their return. If it was someone who saw them at the Tom Thumb picking out a movie, that person had to have known who they were, where they lived, and where they were heading. If he was driving, he would have had to hurry to get ahead of them, stash his car, pull a mask over his head, and position himself in the ditch, all without being seen.

Or, it had to be someone who knew the boys were on their way to the Tom Thumb and knew they’d be returning down that dark road in about a half hour. He knew they’d be RETURNING soon… that they weren’t just on a one-way trip to another friend’s house. Could that person have been outside on that warm, quiet October night and overheard the boys talking on their way to the Tom Thumb?

Aaron Larson, Jacob Wetterling's best friendAs you recall, Aaron (Jacob’s friend) was on a scooter, so they had to have been going pretty slowly. Was someone spying on them, listening to their every word? Didn’t Aaron report that he thought he’d heard rustling in the tall grass, halfway to the Tom Thumb? The Minneapolis StarTribune interviewed Aaron in 2009, on the 20th anniversary of Jacob’s abduction.

Watch Aaron’s 2009 interview here

We know for sure there was another boy, Jared, just one year older than Jacob, who was abducted, molested, and released by a stalker-stranger in Cold Spring… just 10 miles away and 9 months prior. That man was never found, and the similarities between the two cases are striking (i.e., Jared was abducted on his way home after skating at a hockey rink; Jacob was at hockey tryouts earlier that day; the man was concerned about being recognized in both cases; he had a gun and a low gravely voice; and, in both instances, he told the boys, “Run and don’t turn around, or I’ll shoot.”). These facts are hard to deny. Sure sounds like it could be the same guy.

However, they sure have put the heat on Dan Rassier lately, and God help him if he had nothing to do with the case. Yes, his actions on the night of the abduction seem a little weird. But then, why in the world didn’t the police officers search his house or interview him that first night? Also weird.

And really… could a guy like Dan Rassier, an educated man with a Master’s degree and a TEACHER for heaven’s sake, actually do something like this? For 21 years, he’s lived his life under a microscope. If he was guilty of child molestation/abduction, wouldn’t they have found some nasty files on his computer or some kiddie porn in his bedroom? They’ve searched his house three times now… chances are they would have found something incriminating by now. Right?

Confounding. Frustrating. Agonizing!

Let me just end by saying this…

Peace to the Wetterlings, and peace to you, Jacob. If there was something… ANYTHING… more I could do for you, I would. But unfortunately, only two people know what really happened that October night 21 years ago – you and your abductor. So… here’s one last word for you, Mr. Gravely Voice. If you’re still out there, know that it’s never too late to do the right thing. It’s never too late to ask for forgiveness, and it’s never too late to be forgiven. Please, do the right thing.

In the meantime, I’ll keep praying and “thinking Jacob.”

Skip ahead to 2013: Thinking Jacob. Again.

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