“Embracing the Past”

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Thanks to all of you who have been following my Jacob Wetterling story. It’s been almost a year since I started this blog topic (the second time around), after I was contacted by Dan Rassier last January. Since that time, I have learned a lot about this case, thanks in part to witnesses like Dan, Kevin, and Jared who have been willing to share their stories with me.

From the beginning, my goal has been to stick to the facts and eliminate wrong or misleading information. So far, this has worked out well. I truly believe this case is solvable, but only if people are willing to come together and share their stories.

Times have changed a lot since 1989. Information moves faster than ever before, and we must take advantage of this because, unfortunately, time is not on our side.

Next fall will mark the 25th anniversary of Jacob Wetterling’s abduction. However, one week from today, on January 13, 2014, we will also observe another important milestone in this case… the 25th anniversary of Jared’s abduction. He was “the other boy” – the 12 year kid from Cold Spring who was abducted and assaulted 9 months prior to Jacob.

I’ve gotten to know Jared over the past several months, and as we’ve collaborated on his case, I’ve noticed him evolve from a casual contributor to an impassioned man on a mission. In fact, it was his persistence that led me to discover an article from a 1987 issue of the Paynesville Press that mentioned five other cases of assaults on young boys that sounded surprisingly similar to his own. (If you missed that blog post, read it here.)

Since that time, Jared has been working closely with the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department to learn more about these cases from 1986-1987. Unfortunately, eyewitness accounts have been lost or destroyed over time, so Jared is now reaching out to the public for help.

Just this week, Jared submitted an article to the Paynesville Press that will run in tomorrow’s paper. I’m including a copy of the article below, as well as a Google map which shows the approximate locations of each of the 1986-1987 incidents. (I compiled this information from archived newspaper articles and input from longtime Paynesville residents.)

We are hoping this information will shed new light on these cases and bring renewed hope to the victims. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office 320-251-4240 (answered 24/7), or email sheriff@co.stearns.mn.us (reviewed daily).


View Paynesville Incidents, 1986-1989 in a larger map

Embracing the Past

On Friday, January 13, 1989 I was the victim of an assault. I was 12 years old and lived in Cold Spring at the time. An unknown man approached me in a car, asked for directions, and abducted me. Twenty-five years have passed and I’ve dealt with many emotions through the years… a time of being scared, a time of anger, a time of solitude and loneliness, a time of resolution… but still waiting for closure.

I’ve learned to deal with my past. I moved on, but never forgot.

Recently I discovered that Paynesville had some similar incidents take place back in 1986-1987. There were at least five attacks on 12-16 year old boys with details similar to mine. I’ve been investigating these attacks and am trying to learn more details from victims or anyone else who lived in the community at the time. Paynesville is a small town. People know people. I hope something may come from this.

The similarities between the cases are as follows:

  • Suspect is authoritative in manner
  • He threatened the use of a knife or gun
  • In most cases he wore a mask
  • Boys were all similar ages
  • Suspect took keepsakes from victims
  • Most of these assaults happened in or around downtown

Around the same time these attacks happened, there was a sexual predator from around the area who was arrested and convicted in 1990. He is still locked up. He had a history of using drugs or alcohol to subdue his victims. Over the years, I did line-ups with this man and was questioned extensively to see if I would recognize him. He was never charged in my case and, to this day, he denies any involvement.

So who did this? I’m at the point in my life where I’m wondering if I’ve done everything I can to help solve this investigation. I would like to find and talk to these other victims. Maybe it seems like it’s easier to forget and move on, but we need to understand we’re a part of something bigger.

Because of the similarities of our two cases, I’ve been involved with the Jacob Wetterling investigation for 24 years. Now I need your help. The only way these cases are going to get solved is by people coming together and sharing their stories. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office needs new statements from victims. Anyone who knows any information about the incidents in 1986-1987, or any other attempted attacks, is encouraged to come forward.

Twenty-five years ago, this man left me with these words, “It’s OK to talk about this, but if they come close to finding me, I’ll find you after school and kill you… before they find me. Now run, and don’t look back or I’ll shoot.”

I have lived with the stress of this event all my life, and in ways, it defines who I am. I suspect other victims live with the same stress, and I would like to speak with them. People with information can call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office at 320-251-4240. If you are a victim, they will refer you to me.

NEXT: The 1986-87 Paynesville incidents – an update

11 Comments

  1. Bless Jared and all he went through. Talking about it will help with some of the pain. I hope we figure out the person who did this to him. Has he looked at a picture of Richard Bahner Sr? He is probably talking about Duane Alan Hart in the article. Would he recognize his perpetrator’s face if he saw it? What about the voice? One thing for sure is there were a lot of child sexual predators in that one small town area the time of both incidents (according to my research). DAH and RB Sr are at the top of my list so far.

  2. I was 15 when Jacob was abducted. My father worked on a road construction crew in the St. Cloud area when this happened and his crew was even questioned by the police after the abduction. This case has always haunted me and anyone familiar with the case. I was curious to see if there was any new information out there about the case when I stumbled upon your web blog. I read it at least twice and certain parts multiple times. I learned a lot more than I thought I would about this case via your blog! I’d never heard about the abduction of Jared and the assaults on the boys in Paynesville before reading your blog. It seems highly likely that if they find the guy who assaulted Jared, they will have the guy who abducted Jacob. Further speculation suggests to me that he’s also responsible for the assaults in Paynesville. He must live or have lived in that area in one of those towns. I also strongly believe that he saw Jacob and the other boys somewhere along their route to Tom Thumb and ambushed them on their way back. He selected Jacob and abducted Jacob with the use of a car stashed on the Rassier driveway. Hopefully, Jared and the police will be able to locate and get more information from the Paynesville victims that could help identify this man.

  3. Catherine Dehdashti |

    Hi Joy, I’m glad you are putting time into this case. All Minnesotans and others who remember hope the family finds answers. I have many questions. I’ll ask them here as I remember what they are. Here are a couple:
    Do you think any of the sketches resemble any of the known suspects?
    Do any of the sketches resemble anyone at the abbey?
    Have witnesses ever looked at photos of people at the abbey, or of people in the area likely to have such a walkie-talkie device?
    Did any of the known suspects have a car like those described?
    Did Vernon Seitz’s video of Jacob from before the abduction seem to be video that Seitz took himself, and is there any indication he was nearby at the time? (I would like to know why he is basically ruled out, and the pre-abduction video details seem scarce.)
    Why was the man who says the car was his ruled out? I saw an interview with him, but not much else about him.
    Lastly, I wish you could explain what you mean about reasons Rassier believes he was targeted that you say you discussed with him…besides the obvious profiling and opportunity reasons.
    Lastly, not a question, but just a comment of support for Jared, who is brave and doing the right thing, even at risk to himself in many ways.

    OK, that was more than a couple of questions, and I know I have more. I think there must be a way to piece together a full Q&A and some scenarios for more people to access.

    Good luck with all of your writing, especially this.
    Catherine

  4. I am wondering if Jared ever met Dan Rassier, and can he rule him out as his attacker?

  5. I’m from Georgia and just watched this story on 20/20 on ID. im a former police officer here in Ga. I was taken off the job due to an injury sustained in an auto accident, but in my heart I’m still a cop. I started researching this case after watching the show and run across your blog. I can tell your holding back information either hoping the cops are looking into it, or out of respect for someone’s privacy, etc..

    From a cops viewpoint I agree this can be solved. One thing is for sure based on the story and your blog its obvious there is several problems keeping the case from being solved.
    1. There’s only one unsub not co-perps. Through my searching the several other incidents they all consist of similar M.O.’s, 1 guy with a knife or gun, a sexual or attempted sexual assault, and last but most important the statement the unsub made to the survivors, “run away dont look back or I will shoot.
    2. Lack of information sharing between agencies. Unfortunately that is still common even today. You find when big serial cases are solved each agency involved claims either they had no knowledge of similar cases in surrounding areas or agency’s involved refused to share information on an active investigation. Information needs to be shared and most important the lead investigator needs to be new with limited knowledge of the case. Also he/she should be given full access to the case and to the similar cases surrounding area.
    3. Lose the tunnel vision on the prime suspect. Follow the evidence of all the cases if its back to the prime suspect then you got him if not then it will lead to someone. M.O. being similar to other cases it means the unsub wont change it subconsciously he cant change it.

    The similar incidents stopped soon after Jacob’s abduction. Either the unsub moved or got locked up. If he moved to another state similar incidents should be looked for with focus on the final statement the unsub makes to victims. If someone has been arrested for a similar incident somewhere else with the statement try to connect him back to that area during that time. If the unsub was locked up and thats the reason for the stopping of the incidents then it will be for a similar crime in which case link the unsub to the area.

    That’s just my opinion from what ive learned so far. I dont remember this case since I was 8 years old at the time but I do remember the Adam Walsh case. I dont know if the prime suspect in his case was ever in Minnesota but he does bear a striking resemblance to the last drawing of the guy in the hat thats clean shaved. I know the prime suspect in the Walsh case was arrested and put to death but I dont remember when or where it was. Just throwing that out there.

    Thanks for your time and effort. If you ever get to look at any documents or photos of the crime scene I would love to be contacted to try to help anyway I can.

    thanks again,

    Tim Sprayberry 

  6. This is for JARED: Please go to Amazon.ca or USA and get, assuming you have the bread,VANISHED by Valerie Green. It is the story of Michael Dunahee and his abduction. If it don’t satisfy you go to some of the Canadian online papers and see what you come up with? Thanx.

  7. Jared first I want to say stay strong brother. I cant imagine what you have been through and pray my children never have to go through a similar situation. I know you have a close group of people helping you with this case. Like I stated in my previous comment ive been studying a great deal on Jacob’s case and just what I’ve been able to find online since I live in Georgia. I offered Ms. Baker my help no matter how great or small. I offer you the same. Ms. Baker can give you my person email. I can offer a viewpoint of a officer. I have worked several rapes and child assault cases. I’m good at what I do. I have a viewpoint that I wont discuss on this forum but just say I was never the a-typical cop. Ive been on calls and seen or noticed things thats others missed leading to an uncovering of other crimes strong emphasis on assault/molestation. I can explain more if you choose to email me. Last I’m free. Someone using a cellphone while driving ended my career but I will always be a cop in my heart and will help anyone I can with anthing I can.

  8. Jared, you are a very brave a courageous man and hopefully your determination will one day bring your abductor to justice. From reading bits and pieces of your story and Jacobs story, and being in law enforcement, I believe the abductor lived in the area he took you to. It seems like your abductor was in the beginning stages of acting out his sick fantasies and escalated with the abduction of Jacob. Usually in the beginning stages, a sexual predator will hunt and commit the violation in an area that is most familiar with them “comfort zone.” Also, he asked you if you knew who he was, relating that he was known to people in the area. I am sure you are aware of all of these profiling tidbits…. But I have one question… After Jacobs abduction, did any other assaults on boys/abductions occur in the area? If not, the abductor probably skipped town by moving out of the area. A perversion and craving like that does not just go away, but it gets stronger and I believe there would have been more abductions. Maybe law enforcement should try to create new leads through the media by asking individuals to come forward if they have any information on individuals who we’re acting suspicious or left town directly after Jacobs abduction.
    Also, I do not believe this man was a police officer. I think he was a coward who somewhat impersonated law enforcement and military to feel empowered. Could have possibly been a security guard, but I think the guy was a wanna be police officer. However, I definitely believe it was a local who committed the crimes. I hope one day your testmony and hard work can help bring A resolve for Jacobs family. God bless.

  9. Derek Mitchell |

    Which route did the boys take on the way to the tom thumb did they take the first right or did they go all the way down to the end of the road before turning right?

  10. Can a composite sketch be generated to show what this guy would look like today?

  11. What about the hockey connection? Perhaps a coach?

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