He was a twelve year old kid living in the small town of Cold Spring, Minnesota, when he was abducted and assaulted by a stranger one cold winter night in January 1989. The assault took place just ten months before Jacob Wetterling was abducted, in a town less than 10 miles away. And like Jacob, Jared’s abductor was never found.
- The guy was stocky, about 5′ 8″ with husky shoulders, and weighed between 180-190 pounds.
- He had a low-pitched, raspy voice.
- He had big ears that stuck out in the back.
- Early news reports stated that the man was wearing “military fatigues and black military boots,” but Jared discounts this description. “He didn’t look like he just came back from Fort Ripley or anything,” he said. The man’s pants were baggy… like cargo pants, possibly military-issued… but not “camouflaged.”
- He had a portable police scanner that resembled a big walkie talkie. It sat on the console between the front seats. At one point, one of the responding officers unclipped his police radio from his belt and showed it to Jared. “Like this?” he asked. “Yeah, like that,” Jared replied.
- The car was a mid-to-late 80s, dark-colored, 4-door sedan, with automatic transmission. The shifter was on the steering wheel.
- At one point, the man told Jared not to bother trying to get out because the back seat had child safety locks.
- The FBI became involved and took over the interviews.
- Jared was taken to several different auto dealers and asked to sit in the back seats of many cars, trying to find one that seemed familiar.
- Every time a new pedophile was arrested, Jared was asked to come in and view another mugshot.
- He participated in at least two lineups.
- He took a lie detector test and submitted DNA.
- If Jared’s attacker was in his late 40s or early 50s in 1989, he’d be about 65-70 years old now.
- He seemed to know his way around Cold Spring and Richmond pretty well, taking the back roads, rather than the main highway.
- He drove a newer 4-door sedan, similar to a Chevy Celebrity or Buick Century with child safety locks in the back seat.
- He was controlling and authoritative, with a deep raspy voice.
- At what point did Jared’s attacker begin following him? After school? At the ice rink? At the cafe?
- Why did this guy have a portable police scanner? Was he in law enforcement? An EMT? Security guard?
- Why was he wearing clothing that looked “military-issued?” Was he a veteran?
- Did he intentionally seek out and purchase (or rent) a car that had child safety locks in the back seat?
- Was he a religious man or clergy member who became remorseful when he heard Jared reciting the Lord’s Prayer?
- Was he a regular at the Red Carpet?
I had a chance to meet Jared a few weeks ago, and we’ve talked several times since. He agreed to talk to me in the hopes that, even after 24 years, one small overlooked detail might be all it takes to jog someone’s memory and unlock this 24 year old mystery… and possibly Jacob’s as well.
Here is his story.
On January 13, 1989 (Friday the 13th), Jared was ice skating with a group of friends at an outdoor ice rink at Pioneer Park in Cold Spring. There were about ten of them in all – a mixture of guys and girls – and Jared was on his first date with his 7th grade girlfriend. After skating, the kids decided to go to the Side Cafe downtown for some hot chocolate and a bite to eat. Sometime between 9:30-9:45pm, they started heading for home. One of the other parents offered Jared a ride, but he declined. “That’s OK,” he told them. “I can walk.” It was only a quarter mile or so. No biggie.
As he was walking home along the sidewalk, a man in a car approached him going the opposite direction. The man stopped, rolled down his window, and asked Jared if he knew where the Kraemers lived. (They were a well-known family in Cold Spring at the time – business owners – who lived just a few houses away from Jared.) As he was approaching the car giving directions, the man stepped out of the vehicle, seemingly interested in what Jared was telling him. “Yeah, just go down this block,” Jared said, pointing, with his back to the man. Suddenly, the man grabbed Jared’s shoulders from behind, told him he had a gun “and wasn’t afraid to use it.” Next, the man told Jared to pull his stocking hat over his eyes, and forced him into the back seat. He was very authoritative and spoke in a deep, gravely voice.
“This can’t really be happening,” Jared remembers thinking to himself. “This must be a joke.”
The guy drove him around for a while, heading west on the back roads toward Richmond. He finally stopped at a secluded spot about four miles away. (Ironically, a church stands close to that spot today.)
The assault lasted about 20 minutes. When it was over, Jared’s abductor suddenly got angry and said he was late for an appointment at the Red Carpet. (Though Jared was too young to know it at the time, the Red Carpet was – and still is – a popular bar/nightclub in St. Cloud, about 20 miles away.)
Jared remained in the back seat while they headed back toward Cold Spring. Then, Jared did something he thinks may have saved his life. Quietly, under his breath, he began to recite the Lord’s Prayer.
The man asked Jared if he knew who he was. Jared said he did not. “It’s OK to talk about this,” the man said. “But if they ever come close to finding out who I am, I’ll find you, and I’ll kill you.”
He stopped the car just outside of Cold Spring, at the top of Bell’s Hill, about two miles from Jared’s house. The man grabbed Jared out of the back seat, and told him to run. “Don’t look back or I’ll shoot,” he told him.
Jared ran. All the way home. The only time he stopped was to hide whenever a car went by.
When he finally arrived home, it was 11:30pm… about an hour and a half from the time he had been abducted.
Here are some other details Jared remembers:
As part of the investigation, Jared was asked to reenact the drive from Cold Spring to Richmond to determine the location of his assault. Detectives from Stearns County drove him around at night while he sat in the back seat and told them which direction to turn. He believes he was finally able to determine the location when he recognized a distinctive farm light in the distance.
Then, on October 22, 1989, Jacob Wetterling was abducted in St. Joseph, Minnesota, a town just ten miles away from Cold Spring. Suddenly, the search for Jared’s attacker intensified exponentially:
All along, Jared and his family were cooperative with the investigation. However, after one particularly grueling interview, Jared’s parents said, “No more.” Detectives had interrogated him like a criminal in order to determine if he was lying. It was too much for any 13 year old boy to have to bear. Yet, he kept on, determined to do whatever he could to help find Jacob.
Then, there was “the sketch.” It’s the one we’ve all been staring at for almost 25 years.
In my last post, you may recall there were two different composite sketches generated with Jared’s help. The first was done by a local sketch artist in the weeks just after his assault. However Jared admits it’s the second sketch he feels is the most accurate. That drawing was done by a professional FBI sketch artist who was flown in from Washington, D.C. to help with the investigation. Jared worked with the artist for approximately 10 hours, answering questions and agonizing over every detail to make sure the sketch best resembled the man who assaulted him.
So, why are we sharing this story? Because we need your help. Someone knows this man. He is someone’s son, brother, uncle, father, cousin, co-worker, neighbor, or roommate. He is a criminal, a child molestor, and most likely a repeat offender.
Here are some more characteristics to ponder:
And a few more questions:
If you have any insight to share, leave a comment below. Or if you’d rather speak directly to law enforcement, please contact the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department at 320-251-4240 (answered 24/7), or email email@example.com (reviewed daily).