Holy media blitz!

First of all, to everyone who has commented, emailed, or called in with a tip in response to our news story about the Paynesville incidents in 1986-1987, THANK YOU. By Friday of last week, KARE-11 reported that the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department had received over 30 tips, and I know I have forwarded at least that many myself. The response has been overwhelming, and I would especially like to thank the people of Paynesville for stepping up to the plate and facing this media storm with grace and compassion. It has not been easy.

Before our story aired on WCCO last week, my blog was averaging about 80 views per day. By Tuesday May 13, that number had jumped to over 30,000. (Yes, you read that right, I said THIRTY THOUSAND.) And that’s a day before our story with Esme Murphy on WCCO had even aired.

Fox 9 aired a story about my blog on Monday, May 12; KARE-11 had picked up the story by Tuesday, May 13; our story with WCCO aired in a two part series on Wednesday, May 14 and Thursday, May 15; and on Friday, May 16, Jared and I took part in a live radio broadcast with Esme Murphy on the Chad Hartman Show on News Radio 830 WCCO.

Since then, Esme Murphy has been following this story and has been researching new leads. You can follow her ongoing newscasts here: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/personality/esme-murphy/

I am hopeful that these new tips will provide a breakthrough in these cases. As I stated in my radio interview, it’s not OK that this happened. These cases may be 25-27 years old, but that doesn’t make it OK. It was never OK, and it’s obvious by the incredible response to this story that others feel the same way. People are stepping up, taking a stand, and demanding answers. It’s that simple. These victims deserve answers, and they also deserve our support and respect. They are the real heroes here; they are the brave ones.

One question I’ve been asked repeatedly over the past two weeks is, “How did you ever get started writing about Jacob Wetterling?”

Well… there’s a long answer and a short answer to that question. I’ll try to explain the long answer below, but here’s the short answer:

I didn’t find this story; it found me.

In 2010, I started this blog because I was looking for a creative outlet that would keep me writing on a regular basis. I had recently uncovered a mystery involving an old, ramshackle beach cottage named Villa am Meer that I started researching and writing about. I loved how the story unfolded online, with people commenting and sending feedback as I wrote.

When that story started to come to a close, I began looking for another mystery to write about. It was the summer of 2010, and though I didn’t know it at the time, I was teetering dangerously close to what would soon become a full-blown mid-life crisis (or mid-life recovery, as I like to refer to it). I suspect everyone goes through this when they reach their 40s… it has something to do with reevaluating your life and wondering if you’re in the right place, doing the right things with the gifts you’ve been given.

I Googled “Minnesota mysteries” (or something like that) and found a lot of ghost stories that sounded intriguing but terrifying. I decided that was not my thing. I started researching a murder that had taken place in my county back in the 1970s, but that turned out to not be my thing either. I decided I wanted to write about something hopeful… something that might have a happy ending. And that’s what brought me to Jacob.

I had just begun researching the Wetterling case, when suddenly, out of nowhere, a news story came on TV about a possible break in the case. They were searching a neighbor’s farm, just up the road from the Wetterlings’ residence. I watched in disbelief… I couldn’t believe the uncanny coincidence.

I decided it was a sign.

On October 23, 2010, the day after the 21st anniversary of Jacob’s abduction, I needed to go to St. Cloud to buy a birthday present and decided to take the back road through Cold Spring and up through St. Joseph. It got real for me that day as I drove past the spot where Jacob was taken. It was real, and emotional, and impactful. I suddenly had a passion to find answers.

From there, it has been one crazy coincidence after another that has kept me on this journey. Believe me, I have tried to walk away. It has been scary, emotional, and frustrating. There are times I’ve have had to stand up for my integrity and my intentions, and I’ve gained a new respect for people whose careers require them to deal with tragedy and heartbreak on a daily basis. Somehow they have learned to set emotion aside and get on with their work, but I admit, that has not been an easy lesson for this mom of two boys.

Trust me when I say that good things have come from this recent media blitz. Good tips have come in, people have come forward, and we have discovered at least two more incidents that took place in Paynesville, and possibly others in surrounding areas. I will share what I can in the coming days and weeks, but for right now, this mom needs a break.

Happy Memorial Day.

#rememberingjacob #thinkingjacob

NEXT: Two more incidents…


  1. Lori Linder |

    Your blog had been incredibly interesting. I never knew anything about the incidents in Paynesville. Those attacks and Jared in Cold Spring all took place before Jacob. Are there other potentially related attacks that took place after Jacob? I’ll never forget him and think of him often. Thanks for what you do.

  2. Lisa Ramerth |

    Awesome job Joy! Keep writing and hoping and praying! Somehow, these mysteries have to get solved. Enjoy your holiday weekend! You definitely need a break! Love ya!

  3. Joy! I’m thrilled that you have taken this on. I, too, believe in signs. Keep it up! Love your writing and would love to hear that Jacob’s abductor has been found and that Patty and her family may finally have closure. I’ll never forget the night he was taken. I have prayed for him every single day since.

  4. central minnesotan |

    Joy thank you for your blog. I keep checking back, hoping for more news. I was in high school in a nearby town when this happened and Jacob was just a few years younger than me. Seeing the story back in the news makes me think of all the time that has passed, and how wrong this whole thing is. I see on Esme Murphy’s newscasts that they are investigating the Hubers – again. Do you know why the Hubers were talked to the first time around? It’s spooky – I have never met the Hubers, but when I saw the sketches of the suspects, I thought of Delbert and his picture in the Willmar paper last year or the year before. (Before I learned he was being investigated!) The Huber property must be in Kandiyohi County because that’s where his trial was. I hope the news has gotten around in that area, because other people in rural Kandiyohi County might know more about the Hubers – they sound unforgettable.

  5. You are right Joy, none of this should have happened to any of these boys. And hopefully by all the media attention about child molestation and kidnappings, people will get the message that this is not OK. If it happened to you, it is ok to talk and to get help. I think with all the praying going for Jacob in MN and around the word, we are bound to find him one way or another.

  6. Milford Houck |

    Joy, Scriver Olson’s case was never solved either. Scriver farmed south of Belgrade and west of the Crow River Luthern Church. It was mentioned that about the time Scriver passed that Huber farmed land close to Mr. Olson. Mr. Olson also sold seed corn and was caretaker at the Crow River Lutheran Church.

  7. I hope the community papers in Eden Valley, Kimball and other surrounding communities have dove into their archives for information as well. W/O your inquiry into the Paynesville incidents, we’d probably be no further along than we were 20 years ago.

  8. Cindy Larson |

    When I read your words below, there is a pang in my gut and tears down my cheeks because I know what you mean:

    “It got real for me that day as I drove past the spot where Jacob was taken. It was real, and emotional, and impactful. I suddenly had a passion to find answers.”

    I feel and share your passion and pain. I hope and pray there are answers soon.

  9. Curious Also |

    I think the cases in Paynesville, St. Joseph, Cold Spring and St. John’s university are likely the work of the same person(s). And while this may just be a coincidence, it may not be – in the three high-profile cases the names of the victims were Jared, Jacob and Joshua — all biblical and all beginning with the letter J, all three walking or riding to their homes, indicating they may have been stalked so it could be the attacker picked his victims in these cases partly by name. Their homes were in Cold Spring, St. Joseph and St. John’s University, each just a bit further down the road from Paynesville. All of them less than 30 miles from there.

  10. Kyle J. Hanson |

    You’re telling me he asked Joshua Guimond what his name was and then abducted him? Plus, he was much older than 11-12 range so I don’t feel there is a connection. And isn’t Aaron, Jacob’s friend, a biblical name too? I think these common names of young boys is a councidence but the ages of them is not.

  11. In the Wetterling abduction, the abductor asked the boys their ages. Would it really matter to him if they were 11 or 12? Perhaps, but It may have been he was targeting Jacob specifically but it was too dark to tell which one was Jacob. If he was looking for Jacob, he probably knew his age and may have tried to identify him that way. If he had asked them for their names, he would have revealed the fact that he had been stalking one of them. Yes, Guimond was older, but walking to his home fits the MO of the other crimes. Some of the victims in Paynesville were attacked on the way home or at their homes, indicating the perpetrator knew specifically who they were and where they lived. If the perpetrator had stalked Guimond, he probably knew who he was and where he lived. Of course it might not be connected. But that type of disappearance is very unusual. It’s proximity to the other crimes indicates to me his disappearance should be considered a possible piece of this puzzle. I agree the name angle is likely coincidence but I thought it was worth at least mentioning.

  12. James Nuttall |

    Joy –

    I understand the toll a case like this can exact on an individual. I’ve spent a decade working murders. In my opinion, your effort is invaluable to this unsolved case. Your site gives the community and potential witnesses a resource to connect with.

    We have a few kind hearted and dedicated folks such as you that have taken on a similiar role here in our community. I view such folks as a critical liason between the community and our agency.

    I hope you stay the course and a long awaited resolution is reached.

    Detective James N.

  13. Bruce Schultz |

    While watching TPT this evening, With their feature on the Wetterlings, I was reminded of The missing SJU student, Josh. As a dad of two college graduates, I think what heartbreak these dear parents have lived with for so long, and how thankful I am for my boys. Please keep turning over rocks and investigating. Nothing can bring these boys home, but justice demands answers. My best to you.

  14. LegendaryHeart |

    Track the hits to your blog, from the early days before it became popular. A guy who had a police scanner in the 80’s would certainly use the internet today. I bet he was one of your first followers. If he’s alive, that is.

  15. dan hoey jacob wetterling case linked to zodiac 69 |

    after jacob u should do a story about josh giamond the guy who vanished in 2002 from st john collage 5 miles from the wetterling crime scene

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