Another incident and some exciting news

Thanks again to everyone who continues to follow and comment on my Jacob Wetterling story. I have another incident to report that took place in Paynesville sometime during the late 1980s or early 1990s. I’ll share that in a moment, but first I have some other big news.

John Walsh from America’s Most Wanted has a new show called The Hunt coming out on CNN next month. He became interested in the new leads that have been generated in Jacob’s case, and is going to feature the story on his new show! His production crew was in town last week and interviewed Sheriff John Sanner from the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, Patty and Jerry Wetterling on Wednesday, and Jared and me on Thursday. Here’s a picture of me with the crew — John, Vitaly, and Chris — who came to my house to do the interview last week.


Walsh’s new show will premiere on July 13, 8pm CST. Here’s a snippet from the official press release from CNN’s web site:

The Hunt with John Walsh, a documentary-style, non-fiction program will take advantage of Walsh’s unique statue and perspective in television journalism and will tell stories of ongoing international criminal investigations in which the suspect is a fugitive at large. Through interviews with victims, loved ones and law enforcement and the exploration of new leads, The Hunt will provide the public with salient information to help in the fugitive’s apprehension. (Produced by Zero Point Zero Productions)

If you’re not familiar with John Walsh, I encourage you to Google his name and read his amazing backstory. After his son, Adam, was abducted and murdered in 1981, he went on to become an advocate for victim’s rights and launched America’s Most Wanted in 1988. In the 25 years that AMW was on the air (first on FOX, then on Lifetime), that show managed to track down 1,203 fugitives. That’s an impressive track record.

Watch a video interview with John Walsh…


I’m hopeful that by sharing Jacob’s story once again in front of a national audience, somebody might come forward with a piece of information that could help solve the puzzle. I’ll try and share more information about the show as it becomes available. You can also follow John Walsh on Twitter at @JohnWalshAMW.

Now then… on to another Paynesville incident.

I learned about this story from a 34 year old man who grew up in Paynesville and now lives in Minneapolis. He doesn’t remember exactly what year this incident took place, but he’s pretty sure he was in middle school at the time, so that would put it somewhere between 1990-1992. However, it may also have taken place when he was a little younger, so possibly late 1980s as well.

Here’s his story.

I was waiting for my Dad who picked me up from wrestling every night. He works in St. Cloud, and that night it was taking him longer than usual to get home. Possibly traffic.

I stood out in front of the Paynesville middle school, and sooner than later, I was by myself.

I then saw a long, dark, old green car (possibly brown) with an off white roof. It was driving around the block over and over. It was one of those old cars with a REALLY long hood.

I remember being a little creeped out that it kept circling. I didn’t see it for a while and felt relieved until I saw a figure walking down the sidewalk from the playground area toward me. He got closer and closer, and I could not make a face out because it was dark.

I started to walk away. He got faster. I got faster. Then he got faster again.

I ran to my aunt and uncle’s home who lived about 3-4 houses down from the school and barged into their house. When I peeked out the door, the husky guy briskly walked by and had a black ski mask on.

My dad came shortly after, and we immediately went to the police station.

One interesting note… this young man wrote a paper about his incident when he was in high school. He and his parents have been trying to find it to see if it might include more details or clues, but so far, no luck. (He did mention he got an A on it though!)

Also, here’s one final thing. A lot of people keep asking me who I think did this. The answer is, I don’t know. But since I learned about these Payneville incidents last summer, I’ve been operating under the assumption that one person is responsible for all of these attacks — Jared’s and Jacob’s included. That means the suspect would have to have a tie to all three locations – Paynesville, Cold Spring, and St. Joseph. That narrows the field pretty quickly and leaves us with a short list of strong possibilities. But… who knows. Jared and I continue to talk to people and are grateful for the help we’ve received so far.

Thanks again for following along and for “thinking Jacob” with me.

NEXT: Tidbits…


  1. You’re Amazing

  2. Love reading your blog, thanks for keeping this story alive!

  3. Clarence Dee |

    Joy: You are AOK!

  4. Agree u are amazing!

  5. Linda Wendland |

    That is so great that you are working on this. I commend you!!!

  6. Dean Danielson |

    I believe the case(s) will be solved. Joy will play a leading role in making this happen! Well done and always well written.

  7. So proud of you!!

  8. Patti Granning |

    Joy you are so talented. I love following this story. If they reported it to the police, wouldn’t the police have the year on record?

  9. thank you for all your work on this case. I will be watching the show when it airs.

  10. This is great news about the John Walsh show. Way to go, Joy!

  11. I was just going to say the same thing Patti G posted today. The police should have a record of the incident since they went there after dad came home. Might be worth asking?

    I also want to thank you for all you do for everyone that has been “involved” in all of these incidents. Nothing will ever lead to whomever did this unless someone keeps it being discussed. Look how much information that has been discovered by you (and Patty, Jared and ?) by utilizing your collective strength, faith, and time with so many people.

    Many people that are not related to or know anyone that went through these horrific situations, appreciate your dedication and perseverance. No matter if you are friends of the family, a neighbor or classmate, a citizen of any of these towns or Minnesota, you have the incidents on your mind – often.

    Thanks for all you do! I will continue to pray for strength, happiness and peace for all.

  12. omg this is fantastic news. John Walsh is a hugeeee win for this case. I have read his book in relation to the case of his son Adam and is such a heart wrenching sad story. I would love to hear new interviews of the Wetterlings, neighbours, Jared even Trevor and Aaron and what they can remember and if we could ask questions or even an online chat interview with you interviewing but our questions sorry I am getting carried away here.
    I think that Jacob was being stalked by this person. Like he was hiding in the bushes watching the other 2 lads and grabbed the wrong one. I think he was watching Jacob and just got lucky that night that they happened to go to the store to get a video. I’m so hopeful that this case will be solved with all the people involved and new light shining on it. Your a star Joy x

    ps I used to be part of the doe network and my 3 pet cases back then were Shawn Hornbeck, Elisabeth Smart and Jacob Wetterling. 2 came home safe 3rd time lucky….even after all these years. fingers crossed!!

  13. Thanks to you, Joy, for your persistence and to Jared as well. I’m sure this isn’t easy for him, and I hope he finds his own peace in this as well.

  14. Joy is doing wonderful keeping the light on for this family! My only concern is Walsh’s politics in cases where cops have dropped the ball…. he is pretty averse to admitting LEO mistakes even where it later turned out to be a key element. Let’s see if the new show isn’t afraid to call it like it is and people’s feelings be damned! The case needs to be re-evaluated warts and all.

  15. I am so happy to hear of this wonderful news! And I cannot help to be thankful for this opportunity for the many victims that have came forward to share there stories. I am praying that the truth will come out, and that all will know who has made so many lives so hard.
    Thank you Joy for your persistence, and thanks to those who have shared their stories! We know that this has been tough on all the families and the victims, and we pray that you will finally get some answers.

  16. Thanks Joy for sharing this news. I look forward to the new show.

  17. Mary Matthys |

    Dinger! This is awesome! Please remind us when new show is on so we can see your interview. All this investigating has to lead to something. Even if it doesn’t lead to Jacob’s abductor it may generate a lead for these other people who got abducted during that time period. You are a super star Dinger!!!

  18. It sounds like the description of the vehicle that this man saw matches the description of the Pontiac Catalina-like car spotted the day of Jacob’s abduction. Is there any way to get access to DMV records from central MN for that time period and try to trace that car?

  19. Joy, all I can say is THANK YOU so much for your blog and the key developments in the Jacob’s case you have uncovered. I actually stumbled across your blog by accident. My precocious four and half year old son, Dylan, has recently developed a bad habit of running away from me in shopping malls and large grocery stores.

    Sadly, in these instances the cases of both Adam Walsh and Jacob Wetterling immediately began running through my mind. I was born in 1977, around their ages when the crimes took place in the 80s. They still haunt me today like they did when I was a child.

    Again thank you, thank you for not letting this become just another unsolved cold case. Like you said, it’s blatantly “not ok”, just to let this go. Jacob and his family deserve justice. They deserve resolution and closure. The crimes against Jared and the other victims, which I too am convinced are related, cannot go unpunished. Unspeakable crimes against child should never fall through the cracks. It is NOT OK.

    You blog has inspired me. I always had wanted to do something to help missing children. However, I always felt helpless as to how. Your work has showed me maybe there is a way. It has renewed my passion for the matter. Thank you, I will be following this blog and watching John Walsh’s new show. My prayers go out to the Wetterlings and all of the victims by this perpetrator. I’m praying this guy is caught and justice is served.

  20. Wow, both Dan and this victim remember a long hooded tanish/brown car.

  21. Keep going!

  22. Kyle J. Hanson |

    Does anyone know why we still haven’t heard any autopsy results from the death of Delbert Huber? This is confusing to me. Any news?

  23. Oh and lastly! Maybe the “candy-striped” outdoor carpet mask also suggest a connection to sports. Is it the type of carpet that would somehow be like astro turf or be the carpeting used for something at a hockey rink??? What sporting events or venues used that kind of carpeting in the area? Maybe even at a concession stand?

  24. One more thing on the carpet… The more I think of it, the more I believe this is a huge lead as well.

    I think it’s good to find out what store sold that kind of carpet in or near Paynesville. If possible, contact the owners / managers of the store and find out who was the biggest purchaser of this carpet back in the late 80s? What company bought a ton of this carpet? I think it’s possible the suspect may had made a mask out of the outdoor candy striped carpet because there may have been extra or even a bunch of it lying around at work. Another possibility is that, like I said, is that he somehow took this directly from some sort of sport’s venue.

  25. 2 weeks ago I was reading an old book. It had short stories from reader’s digest. One of the stories was about Jacob Wetterling and it was written 10yrs after his disappearance. I couldn’t get out of my head as to whether he has been found by now. So today I finally googled his name. I’m saddened that he hasn’t been found as yet but find the efforts that you are doing in finding him to be inspiring. I really feel you are on the right track and he will be found soon. Regards from Australia, Catherine

  26. I remember this story when it happened as I grew up in Upper Michigan and was the same age as Jacob. I remember it being all over the news and Jacobs picture appearred everywhere for years after. Frankly, I would be looking for people who may be in prison now that was arrested for a similar or other odd crime in the area after the last sexual assault or attempted kidnapping was reported. This guy was sloppy so he could easily have been arrested for something unrelated or possibly a similar crime and the sexual assaults stopped so thats what I would be looking at. Or… start looking for more clusters of similar incidents in other towns. Maybe the kidnapper moved to a different area.

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