“A Lifetime Lesson”

I recently received a message on my blog from the mother of a boy who was involved in one of the attempted abductions in Paynesville. He had written a paper about the incident for his English class during his senior year of high school. His mom had recently come across it, so she sent me a copy. I contacted the young man who wrote it to ask if he would allow me to post it on my blog, and he graciously agreed.

This is not a new incident. I originally reported this young man’s story last June in a post titled, “Another incident and some exciting news.” However, at that time, this young man was trying to remember details from 1996, almost twenty years ago. This paper was written only five years after the incident, so it not only provides important details, it also gives us a little better idea of when the incident may have taken place. He states in the paper that he was about 12 years old and he was helping his wrestling coach teach Jaycee Wrestling. Since the Jaycee Wrestling program was for kids in grades one to six, it would stand to reason that this young man was a 7th grader at the time, and because it was mid-March, his wrestling season had already ended. That would put the date as March 1992.

This presents a bit of a conundrum. This incident would have taken place much later than the other incidents that occurred between 1986-1989. It would also mean that convicted child molestor Duane Hart, who was arrested in January 1990, could not have been involved since he was already behind bars.

So where does that leave us? Are all these incidents related? Or were there several different pedophiles who were stalking boys in the Paynesville area?

Read the paper and see if you have any insights.

A Lifetime Lesson

It was a mid March day and everything was going great. School was over for the day and I was going to help Coach Virg teach Jaycee Wrestling. This consists of grades one to six. I helped Virg teach some moves by demonstrating them on him. Then I would go around and help the kids do a move on their friend. Little did I know that I was about to face the scariest moment of my life, one that would make an everlasting impression.

Soon it was five o’clock and time to go. Everyone put their street clothes back on and headed outside to be picked up by their parents. I stayed there and waited for every kid to get picked up. One kid didn’t get picked up for a long time, so we both headed back into the school to use the phone so he could call his parents. Suddenly I was thinking, “Where’s MY dad?” He was supposed to pick me up, too. The boy I was helping called his house but no one was home. He started to cry and said, “They forgot about me and I’m going to be here all night.” I told him since they weren’t home, maybe they were on their way or were even there now. We walked back outside. As we stepped out the door, his ride pulled up. He told me he was sorry and left.

But now what? My dad still wasn’t there and the phone was always busy. It was starting to get darker by the second. You also have to understand that I was only about twelve years old. I sat and waited, and waited, and waited. He still didn’t show up. Something else was sort of peculiar, too. I spotted a car that continuously drove very slowly around the block. I bet it went around at least ten times. It was not an average looking car. It was a very beat up army green colored car with a white fabric top and tons of rust on the lower section. It looked as though this lower portion could just crumble if it would hit a bump in the road.

The car drover slower and slower each time it went around, and as it came towards me, I noticed the driver stared directly at me. I didn’t know if he was going to ask for directions or just what exactly he was doing.

This was around the time there had been talk of several abductions, attempted abductions, and molestings. I was getting so scared. I was saying to myself, “Dad hurry up, hurry up,” as if he would really hear me. The car went around one last time and finally took a turn into an alley. I was so happy, or I guess you could say relieved. But then about five minutes later, I saw a guy walking down the sidewalk toward me. Now I was really ready to crap in my pants.

Because the car with the strange man was no longer lurking around, all I could imagine was that this was the same man who had just turned his car into the alley. The only thing I could think to do was walk to my cousin’s house, which was only about a block away. That could possibly be a bad idea, too. But I couldn’t just stand there either, so I proceeded on my way. Just by the use of my peripheral vision and by the sound of the movement on the sidewalk, I knew the guy was right behind me. Every time I sped up my pace, I could hear by his footsteps that he did, too. I was never so scared in my life. When my mind actually understood what could be going on, I took off running as fast as my legs could go. I no longer heard anything that was going on around me. I didn’t even know if he was still right behind me. I probably reached my cousin’s house in about thirty seconds, but it felt like ten minutes. I was so glad I didn’t have to go any further.

When I reached my cousin’s house, I dashed inside, peeked out the door, and saw a fairly short guy with a medium build continue to walk by. He didn’t seem to be paying any special attention to anything, just briskly walking by. I wondered if he saw where I darted into and hoped he wouldn’t bother anyone there later. Oddly enough, it wasn’t really cold, but he had a black face mask on and he seemed to be dressed all in black. I just got the shivers.

I tried calling my dad again to see what was going on, finally got him, and told him to pick me up. Actually, I said, “Where in the hell are you?” Somehow there had been some misunderstanding. I was safe, but I just couldn’t explain the fear that was still going through my body. I actually felt sick as I pictured all the things that could have happened.

Mom and dad were also shook up when I told them what happened, and when my dad finally picked me up, we went straight to Officer Drager’s house. I had to tell him everything that happened and try to describe what I saw. He was supposed to meet me again to get an actual statement, but that was the end of it. Not much else was ever said about the whole issue. My parents and I did drive around for a short time that evening to see if we could spot the man or the green car. We never had any luck.

I told several friends, and my parents told some of theirs, just for precautionary measures. The worst part was they all sort of just blew us off. I knew if it had been them (especially since there had been so much talk about abductions at the time), they would have felt differently. My parents even began to see why things like this continue to happen. People don’t take warnings seriously enough until it’s too late. My whole family was shook up for quite some time just realizing how lucky we may have been and appreciating each other even more. That may sound sort of weird to others, until it happens to them.

At any rate, I didn’t do much walking alone at night for even short distances for quite some time. I’m a much more cautious person. Even now when I run to the high school from my home, my mother makes me call when I get there. She says, “You just never know if there is a real problem and you wait, you’ve already made circumstances worse by wasting that time thinking nothing is wrong. I forgot to call the other night when I ran out to the school because I got distracted as soon as I walked in the door. My mom almost had a heart attack. She even sent dad out there to look for me, just to make sure. I guess some lessons learned actually last a lifetime.

The young man who wrote this paper also provided me with a map that shows where he was standing outside the school, where the man pulled into the alley, and which direction the man came from when he started walking toward him.

Here’s the map:

Click to view a larger version

Click to view a larger version

One final thing. I happened to be driving through Paynesville with a friend last weekend, on our way to St. Cloud. We pulled off the new bypass to stop and get gas, and ended up driving through town to get back onto Highway 23. As we neared the main drag downtown, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Jacob’s billboard that was placed last October was still up, now six months later.

Way to go, Paynesville.

Click to view a larger version

Click to view a larger version

NEXT: “Catch Me If You Can”…


  1. I just cannot get over how us in New London Spicer areas were never warned of this going on at that time!!!! Unforgivable!!

  2. You are amazing!!!TY for what u are doing! I was a volunteer helping to put Jacob posters up wherever I could from the beginning. It was disappointing when we were rejected and we were, I couldn’t understand it. Patty is so amazing. My sons and I finally met her, years later, when my oldest was twelve. I could see her pain. My son still talks about that meeting. She was running for congress at that time. I live in FL now but still pray daily for Jacob and the Wetterling family. Again TY for keeping Jacobs story alive.

  3. When I get through with this guy-he’s going to be “MUSTARD” “RELISH” and “PICKELED” on a hot dog-with a HEATED BUN.

  4. Thank you Joy! Although horrific crimes against innocent young boys have brought us all here, I look forward to each new post and appreciate the time you’ve dedicated in hopes of helping all of these poor boys.

    My heart goes out to this young man in this post. How terrified he must have been. Thanks to him for sharing his story! And of course, thanks to Jared for everything he has done to help! So sorry these guys had to experience these horrors.

  5. I can only imagine how terrifying this experience was for a 12 year old kid and for this boy to have had the presence of mind to notice what was happening and the descriptions of the car and the guy and the fact the guy parked down an alley; that is amazing. I know adults who wouldn’t pick up all of that.

    Why didn’t the police follow through? With that much information about the car’s description it sounds like they had a chance of finding it.

    Also, the description of the guy driving the car sounds similar to Jacob’s abductor with the black mask and clothing. Does it sound like that to anyone else? There are some people who deserve a special place in hell and I think this guy is one of those people.

    Thank you Joy for everything you’re doing.

  6. Thanks for all of the updates. I was wondering the same thing why didn’t they search for that green car??? Lots of details but new searching. :(. Poor Jacob! 💔

  7. Joy, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all you’re doing to keep a light on Jacob and the others. I pray that your hard work will pay off. Bless you.

  8. It still makes me sick! The police didn’t believe hardly any of the boys that came forward..my brother was a victim of this and at times he was a little trouble maker…so the police basically thought he was making it up and brushed it off…way to go Paynesville PD….

  9. A few question come up when reading this account.

    Was this a large car with an opera style window?

    Was the driver wearing his mask when he drove by looking right at the boy?

    Joy, I believe people in the area would remember who owned a car like that, a big old rusty jalopy, maybe a Lincoln. Put the word out on that car, maybe even change the billboard. Maybe he also owned a wood panel wagon, somebody around would remember that.

    Another question. I read an account somewhere about Jareds abduction where it says the suspect used the word vehicle saying “get in the vehicle,” or did he use the word car?

    I think there is enough suspicion on these cars, thanks to Joy. Ask your parents, ask around.

  10. Yes, It’s better to say something nice than to say nothing at all. It is so good to hear about the good news and Jacob-I just wonder who all reads these posts and could really hold the key-they say that the “suspects” sometimes read the news and media-so I just want to serve a CAUTION with everyone-and remember-the dangers of “predators” and “murderers”. God Bless…Let’s bring Jacob home-the Lord will give answers-when he is ready.

  11. Clarence Dee |

    Joy: I trust you have been keeping up with the newest info on Fr. Tarlton? I am sure you have but just in case… You are doing one Hell of a job here and keep it up!

  12. Clarence–I did not know what you were talking about, hard to keep up on so much corruption so I did a little search, this was the first to come up, sick! http://www.andersonadvocates.com/documents/Fr.%20Allen%20Tarlton%20Timeline.pdf

  13. Clarence Dee |

    Mel: Please go to “Behind the Pine Curtain”; Misconduct, Deception, and a Missing Student. also, Tarlton Autobiography Excerpt #1.

  14. I continue to believe that St. Johns Abbey has everything to do with Jacob Wetterling’s abduction, Jared’s assault, and Josh Guimonds dissappearance. I am Catholic, but am appalled by what the church has allowed, the harvesting of our children.

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