A 12th Paynesville incident

If you read my last post, “The party in the woods – Part 2,” you’ll remember there was a balding, gray-haired man who was seen near the party spot in the woods, quite possibly on the same day as Jacob’s abduction. A group of young teenage boys witnessed this man who was taking notes in a notebook and acting suspiciously. After the abduction, two of the boys were interviewed by the FBI at school, then taken to the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office where they each worked with a sketch artist to create two separate drawings of this man. As far as I can tell, these sketches were never released to the public.

In response to that post, I received a message on my blog from another young man who wanted me to get in touch with a friend of his. This friend had grown up in Paynesville and had experienced another possible abduction attempt by someone who sounded eerily familiar… a balding, gray-haired man who was driving a wood-paneled station wagon.

Here’s his story.

During the summer of 1989 or 1990, two young boys, ages seven or eight, were riding their bikes just a few blocks from home. They were near the corner of Minnesota Street and Stearns Avenue (just west of the middle school) when a man driving a light silver or tan wood-paneled station wagon pulled up and tried to get them into his car. First he offered them candy, then money, then he said he had “something fun” he wanted to show them. They took off on their bikes and headed home in a panic. Neither of their parents were home, so they went went to a neighbor’s house and reported what they had seen. The neighbor called the police, and they came to the house to take a statement.

I was curious whether this statement still existed, so I contacted both the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office and the Paynesville Police Department. No go. Neither could find the statement, but this is not unusual. The state retention policy for offense reports is only seven years (from what I can gather), so once the retention period has expired, the records can be legally destroyed. However, what DOES seem unusual to me is that none of these statements seem to have found their way into either Jacob’s or Jared’s case file. Why? Yes, some of these victims were re-interviewed AFTER Jacob’s disappearance and THOSE reports exist, but what happened to the original statements? Why weren’t those retained?

In light of this new information, we now have twelve separate Paynesville incidents, and it’s starting to get a little confusing as to which one is which. So, I took some time to revisit my Google map this afternoon and update it a bit. In addition to the date and location of each incident, I have now added all the details to the long description of each marker. Simply click a marker to view the details of each incident.

You may notice there are only 10 markers, but 12 incidents. That’s because I believe we are still missing the details from two of the five incidents that were originally reported in the May 26, 1987 article of the Paynesville Press.

If you recall, there were two incidents that were reported by the Paynesville Press on December 9, 1986. The dates of those incidents were August 1986 and November 30, 1986. In both cases, the victims were attacked from behind and verbally threatened. The second victim was sexually assaulted. I know which one occurred on November 30, 1986, but I believe I’m missing the one from August 1986.

The next article that was published on May 26, 1987 mentioned five cases, so I assume the two cases from August and November 1986 were included in those five. But, in trying to match up witness accounts with the paper’s timeline, it doesn’t jive. I believe we are still missing two additional incidents that took place “by the river,” and “at the middle school playground.” I also believe the June 1986 incident was not included in either newspaper article. If you or someone you know has any information about further incidents that occurred in or around the Paynesville area, please email me using the Contact form on this blog. You may also contact the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.

I hope to report some new details soon about one of the incidents I had previously written about. In the meantime, here’s my updated map for the Paynesville Incidents. Thanks for #ThinkingJacob.

NEXT: A lifetime lesson…


  1. Thank you, Joy!

  2. Would there be DMV records for the state with those types of cars back then, still available? Thank you for all the work you do.

  3. These are so clearly connected why didn’t the police ever find any suspect or suspects? I am shocked at the police and even more so at how brazen this attacker or these attackers are.

  4. does this match the description of the weird guy an employee at Tom thumb had a brief conversation with regarding Jacobs abduction?
    Also do any of the employees working at that time remember seeing a vehicle like that?

  5. This may be a silly suggestion, as you’ve probably already explored the idea, but have you looked for more reports in the neighboring towns? With Hwy 23 & Co Rd 2 being the main roads connecting Paynesville and St. Joe, and with Jared’s attack in Cold Spring, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if there were more along that route. Maybe in Richmond or more in Cold Spring? Even Rockville wouldn’t be out of the way for someone traveling along that route.

    I’m a few years younger than these kids were, but grew up in St. Joe and remember Jacob’s case as well as a young kid could. I wore my Jacob’s Hope button on my coat for years and still have the cassette tape with his songs on it. I still know most of the words, too. I’ve read every one of your blogs on this, and something in my gut tells me that this newly revived interest in these cases is finally going to be the beginning of the end. Thank you for all that you are doing, Joy, and thank you to everyone who is coming forward with information big and small. #WeAreJacobsHope

  6. Perfectly said Melissa. #WeAreJacobsHope

  7. Michelle Lang |

    I’m a little curious about the fact that several of the attacks/attempted attacks happened to the same children or family members. Could the attacker have been targeting specific kids?

  8. Appreciate all you do. Is there anyway that the evidence for this case can be publicly released to help solve it.

  9. Hello Joy, I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and just curious about the perp sketches (there are 2 different ones right?) & all the different victims/attempted victims… have any of the them or Jared identified either of the 2 sketches as being possibly the man who took/attempted to take these kids? Or what about the kids who saw the man in the woods… have they said the man looked like either of the 2 sketches? I would love if you could blog a little bit more about the sketches and any correlation between the sketches and all the different kids from the incidents and what all of that could possibly mean…
    Thank you for what you do Joy!

  10. You do such great work. I was browsing around the web for more information about Jacob’s case and I found a very strange coincidence. A student from SJU reported that a man in a ski mask around the area first spotted around the 25th anniversary of Jacob’s abduction. The target is a college student rather than a child being followed but still an odd coincidence. Here’s the original report: http://www.reddit.com/r/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/2l31xl/the_abduction_of_jacob_wetterling/clxbmhk

  11. What about Delbert Huber and his son, has anyone cleared up that? He seems to match the profile

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