Part 2 – WCCO-TV covers Jared’s story

Esme Murphy, WCCO

Esme Murphy, WCCO

Nearly 25 years later, everyone remembers Wetterling’s name. But many have likely never heard of Jared. Just nine months before Wetterling disappeared, a stranger kidnapped that 12-year-old boy in nearby Cold Spring.

Six weeks after Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped, FBI Special Agent Jeff Jamar announced they had knowledge of the other victim.

Jared, speaking publicly for the first time in years, told WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy, “This guy stepped out of a vehicle, said ‘I have a gun I am not afraid to use it. Get into the vehicle.’”
The man who had a police scanner in his car drove Jared to this remote site, sexually assaulted him, then let him go.

“I was told to run don’t look back or he would shoot,” Jared said.
His description of the kidnapper’s threat is almost identical to the one described by Jacob Wetterling’s friend, Aaron.
“He grabbed Jacob and told me to run as fast as he could or he would shoot,” Trevor Wetterling said.

For Jared, the weeks after the Wetterling abduction were filled with grueling interviews with law enforcement.

“They brought me to a point where I broke down, just mentally broke down. They wanted the answer and I didn’t have the answer,” Jared said. “My parents made that decision we should move.”
Jared left Cold Spring, and for 25 years anniversaries passed with no answers and no arrests.
“I learned how to focus on other things,” Jared said.

That all changed last August when Jared was contacted by Joy Baker, the author of a detailed blog on the Wetterling case. Baker had uncovered newspaper articles about a series of sexual assaults in Paynesville in 1986 and 1987, two years before Jacob Wetterling and Jared’s kidnappings. Paynesville is just a few miles from where both boys were abducted.

The police reports and newspaper articles cited by Baker reveal striking parallels between the cases. The boys were all attacked as they headed home on bikes, they were sexually assaulted, the attacker wore a mask, had a low voice and threatened victims with a knife or gun.

Jared believes the same person who took him not only took Jacob Wetterling but is also behind the Paynesville attacks.

“When I first saw them, there was a big sigh that I am not the only one who had made eye contact with this person,” Jared said.

For the past nine months, Jared has worked with Baker to try encourage witnesses to come forward.
“I think it’s time for people to share their stories,” Baker said.

At the same time, Jared worries about the Paynesville victims.

“I apologize to the victims and people that we have already talked to, that we are going to talk to about bringing up 27-year-old repressed memories,” he said.

Over the years Jared and Jacob Wetterling’s mother have become friends.

“I am so grateful to Jared and Joy digging,” Patty Wetterling said.

She too is hoping someone will come forward for the Paynesville victims, for Jared and for her son.
“I do think there is a strong possibility they could be connected,” she said. “Every one of these victims needs answers. Are they tied to Jacob? Let’s find out.”


The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office is now actively investigating all of the Paynesville cases to see if they are connected to Jacob Wetterling’s disappearance.

If you have any information about the Paynesville attacks or the Wetterling case, please call the Stearns County Sheriff at (320) 251-4240. You can also call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.

NEXT: Live radio interview with Esme Murphy on WCCO…


  1. Joy, it must be very rewarding knowing that your “obsession” with this case may cause some real progress to happen, and answer some questions that have been left unanswered for a long time. Good work. I hope only good comes of this.

  2. I just found your blog this morning through a Facebook link. I am so grateful to you for doing this work. I was 15 when Jacob was abducted, and lived about 2 miles from where he was taken. I knew him, and his family, though not well. I have prayed for answers for them for the lady 24 years.

    I know this sounds like a pretty obvious question, but has Jared ever looked through the Paynesville HS (and surrounding areas?) yearbooks from the ’60s and ’70s? A lot of the details here seem to suggest that the abductor had some sort of connection to the area. Probably a goose chase, but I would think that the graduating classes in those towns would be pretty small…

  3. I’ve heard the comment over the years, “Enough already! The kid is gone, let it alone.” I am so glad Patti Wetterling never gave up on finding the truth about Jacob. And thanks to Joy and Jared for their perseverance. Respect and support go to those who are still struggling. This used to look like a story of despair; it is now a story of hope and healing.

  4. Jared is so courageous! Please thank him and all the other victims who have come forward.

  5. Jean Brandt |

    Hi Joy. I found your blog thru Rick Kupchella’s Bring Me The News. I am familiar with the area of these incidents. My family has had a cabin in Kimball, MN for 45+ years and one of my sons lives in Buffalo, MN.

    Given all the awful and ongoing news about the Catholic Church and their lengthy history of protecting pedophile priests (and moving them to other churches when an incident came to light), have you or anyone else ever checked the priests at St. John’s University at Collegeville, MN.?

    St John’s is located VERY close (within 7 minutes) to St Joseph, MN, is within 15 minutes from Cold Springs and within 30 minutes of Paynesville. The St John’s (and St Benedict’s) campus in St. Joseph is large, private and roughly 3,500 acres of private forest, prairie and lakes.

    All these years later, lists and photos of priests (as well as what years and where each priest served) are finally starting to be made public. I wonder if anyone has yet researched the clergy at St. John’s back in the years before and after the Paynesville boys’ incidents, and Jared and Jacob’s kidnappings and correlated that information with the current lists that the Catholic church has been forced to disclose. Especially since this information has come to light only in very recent years, this may be another avenue worth exploring.

    Thanks for all that you’re doing for Jacob and his family.

    Jean B

  6. I agree with you, thank you for bringing this information up. I also think they should take a very close look at the Abbey. I hope someone replies to this.

  7. I’ve been reading Joy’s blog for a long time and was so pleased to hear of the new developments. I can’t believe there are people who think that since Jacob has been gone so long, it’s time to forget about it. That beautiful boy had his childhood stolen and i think it’s more important than ever to find who did it. This person has gotten away with it long enough. I think about what happened to Jacob a lot. Jared and Joy are doing an amazing job in breathing new life into the case. Sending support from Scotland.

  8. I posted this in one of the other blogs, but since you guys have asked about the Abbey, I will repost my comment:

    “Know of any religious institutions in the area that have since been in the spotlight over molestation and assault? I do (and no, I have no personal issue with SJU or the Abbey)… St. John’s Abbey is near 94, not far from 23, would be out of the spotlight (At the time), would not have many people recognize them that are watching the news and TV, the priests/monks could have easy access to getting into St. Cloud and renting a car, or having one stashed on campus. On an aside my mother worked for the Abbey and she knew in the early 80s that the church was sending very “creepy” men to live out their days at the Abbey in the hopes they would not continue their actions. She knew this so much so that she would not have left my older brother alone with a great many of them.”

    I think if these guys are not the people responsible the abbey should be looked at.

  9. Kyle J. Hanson |

    I think it’s an easy suggestion to make but I don’t feel the St John’s Abbey connection makes any sense in this case. If a boy just disappeared, then possibly, but there were 2 other witnesses (Aaron and Trevor) and they say the man who abducted Jacob was forceful and threatened violence and with a gun no less. This definitely does not fit the MO of a Catholic priest, monk, etc.

  10. Jean Brandt |

    I grew up Catholic and attended Catholic schools from kindergarten thru high school. My brothers were altar boys and in fact my dad attended St. John’s Prep School back in the day. If Catholic parents had known then what we have since come to learn about quite a number of priests/monks, we would never have been allowed to attend Catholic School.

    Back in the 50’s and 60’s I would never, in my wildest dreams, have considered the possibility that pedophile priests/monks lurked among us. Yet, it has come to light that there are many. IMO, it is not outside the realm of possibility that one of those priests/monks was forceful, threatened violence and was armed.

    The common threads are that (1) St John’s is located VERY close (within 7 minutes) to St Joseph, MN, is within 15 minutes from Cold Spring and within 30 minutes of Paynesville. The St John’s (and St Benedict’s) campus in St. Joseph is large, private and roughly 3,500 acres of private forest, prairie and lakes, (2) that at the time Jacob was abducted, the Abbey was (and remains) a haven for pedophile priests/monks. (3) St. John’s college student Josh Guimond vanished from campus and is still missing.

  11. Kyle J. Hanson |

    Anything is possible but I have never heard of a priest/monk who was charged with sexual molestation also charged with using a weapon?

  12. Many a priest uses a weapon. They deer hunt, fish and do many things an ordinary man would do.

  13. Martha sanders |

    My granddaughter Myra Lewis missing since March 1, 2014 out of Camden. Mississippi . Mother and 17 year old son left for the store… Mom had told the other sister to take Myra inside to wash her hands, Myra had been playing with the dog. mom backed out of yhe yard as they went inside. Myra along with 5 other kids were left with the father. Mom left around 10:30,11 am.. Dad said he got up a 12 to fix lunch..he said he was the first to notice Myra wasn’t there. He said then that he then asked the kids where was Myra.. And every last one said Myra was gone with mom. Myra was two she’s three now.. The kids left home range from age 10 to 3months.. When mom made it home .. The oldest had the baby in the living room… We’re trying to get our story to Mr. John Walsh .. The Hunt

  14. Now that Jared’s abductor is known, it would be interesting for someone to interview law enforcement about EXACTLY why they feel they cannot prosecute Heinrich for that crime. A cursory review of the crime of kidnapping says there is no statute of limitations for this crime. Is this not true in Minnesota, especially for a child? How is his abduction not a kidnapping? A discussion of this issue would make a good story.

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