Lights on for Jacob

10-22-2015Today marks 26 years since Jacob Wetterling was abducted from St. Joseph, Minnesota. To commemorate the date, the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center (formerly the Jacob Wetterling Foundation) asks that everyone leave their porch lights on so that Jacob — and all missing children — can find their way home.

It’s a simple gesture… an ongoing tradition… but at the same time, so positive and so hopeful. A simple flip of the switch says, “We remember, and we still care.”

Let’s spread the hope. Today, in honor of Jacob and the Wetterling family, flip your porch light on, take a photo, and post it on the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center’s Facebook page, or on Twitter using the hashtag #ThinkingJacob.

I’m re-posting the following article with permission from JWRC and the Wetterling family. The photo shows Jacob in a three-legged race with his best friend, Aaron, who was with him the night he was abducted.


Create a world where kids can be kids.

Prevention starts with you.




Eleven year old Jacob Wetterling believed in fairness. His mother, Patty Wetterling, remembers a boy who would respond strongly when something happened that wasn’t fair or wasn’t just. “Even if something happened that had nothing to do with him, he got very upset when something wasn’t fair,” she says.

Jacob Wetterling was abducted twenty-six years ago, on Oct. 22, 1989, in Saint Joseph, Minn. The case remains open and unsolved. What happened to Jacob was profoundly unfair.

“We are so grateful for the support we have been given and continue to receive from the greater community,” Wetterling comments, “We are thrilled that more and more kids are being found and returned to their families, and we will continue to fight for a safer world so that abduction and sexual exploitation of children doesn’t happen in the first place!”

Jacob Wetterling Resource Center (JWRC), a program of Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center (Gundersen NCPTC), echoes the need for prevention. We must prevent crimes against children every single time. It may not be easy to have these conversations, but it is crucial to talk to our children and adult friends about respect, boundaries, and building caring communities.

“A good first step to prevention is talking safety with children, but it shouldn’t end there. We can’t ask children to shoulder the burden of their own safety. Adults must own the problem and own the solutions. We need to talk directly with the people in our circles about honoring boundaries and doing no harm. We must also move away from standing by and instead, standing up when we see a child in need. We must invest in policies and resources that honor our children,” says Alison Feigh, program manager, JRWC, Gundersen NCPTC.

JWRC has always asked families to leave a porch light on to honor Jacob on Oct. 22. On this 26th anniversary of Jacob’s disappearance, in addition to turning on an outside light, JWRC and the Wetterlings ask you to talk prevention with your children and friends.

“We have learned that when good people pull together for children, amazing things happen. We ask for that commitment once again,” urges Wetterling.

Jacob’s legacy continues to be honored as JWRC works to end all forms of child abuse, neglect and exploitation through training, education, advocacy, prevention and awareness. The organization provides care and treatment for children, families and survivors in Minnesota and across the country.

“From the beginning, the Wetterling family has fought for a world where children can be children. It is time for more people to take on this work. It starts with caring, connected adults deciding that the cycles of abuse will end.” states Feigh.

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  1. Laura Garczynski |

    I will leave my light on! Thank you for this blog and for the great picture of Jacob. God bless the Wetterlings and you too Joy!

  2. We at the MN AMBER Alert Fundraiser Organization resound the words of Patty Wetterling and Alison Feigh of JWRC. We’re dedicated to get the word out, as well, for all porch lights across our great state of Minnesota to be lit in HOPE, tonight. Thank you for continuing your efforts to raise awareness and resolution for the Wetterling family and other families that have been made to live through similar happenings.

  3. It’s hard to look at that picture, and not get tears in your eyes. I will take a picture tonight to post on Twitter. Thanks for you fantastic blog, Joy. Thank you the Wetterlings for having the fortitude to develop such an imperative foundation / resource center in the face of their heartbreak.

  4. Joy,

    Why have you taken down, or otherwise made inaccessible, all of your previous writings about the investigation, etc.? I understand “taking a break”, but why does the removal of information need to be part of it? I feel like your blog has been one of the most important sources and centers for discussion of the case, and not having access to it feels like a significant loss to the community of people who have invested themselves in this case.

    Keep up the good work, Joy. Do not become discouraged. I truly believe you are helping.

    Our porch light will be on tonight.

  5. I will say a prayer and leave a light on for Jacob and also that some new light be shed in this case

  6. Our lights are on tonight to honor and remember Jacob and the continuing light that may be shed on this case to help bring some closure to the Wetterling family.As always, bless you Joy for all you do.

  7. Joy:
    What happened to all the posts on Jacob, and Jared & the paynesville cases?

  8. |

    Apparently there is some big break in the case today, per Fox 9 there is a press confrence at 2PM. Do you have any details?

  9. new details at 2pm!

  10. No doubt in my mind…there would have been no arrest today without your hard work and research Joy. Thank you.

  11. I look forward to hearing your insight into the breaking news today. I hope the victims find some solace from this arrest.

  12. I just heard the news there has been an arrest. Please, please, please let this be the break that will give the family some answers. Praying, as always for Jacob and the Wetterling family, and for you Joy who has worked so hard to uncover the answers.

  13. I am glued to the news that is breaking today and so very interested in your thoughts!

  14. Joy have you acknowledged those who have discovered a lot of the information you have spoken about? Look forward to your response. Thank you

  15. joy.the.curious |

    Not sure I understand your question. Can you clarify?


  16. There is only mention of you and Jared while many others have done the leg work and discovered a lot of the information you have spoken about. Your thought about those people? Do they deserve mention too? Thank you

  17. joy.the.curious |


    I think I know where you are going with this and I welcome the chance to answer. Yes, of course, there are many people who deserve mention, and I believe I have credited my sources all along. If I have not, please let me know so I can correct.

    If you are talking specifically about the Paynesville incidents… then, yes again. There are three other people who deserve mention. First, Jim, who gave me Duane Hart’s name in the first place. I shared Hart’s name with Rob, who, in turn, shared Hart’s name with Jennifer. Jennifer discovered the Paynesville Press online archives, which proved to be a veritable treasure trove of information. She shared the archives with Rob who, in turn, shared them with me. So, we were all researching Hart at the same time. The date was August 11, 2013.

    That same day, I found the article about the Paynesville incidents that ran on May 26, 1987. I shared the information with Jared who told me he had never heard about these cases before. I then sent the information to the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office who requested to see a copy of the full article. I sent it the next day, on August 12, 2013.

    It was at this point Jared and I realized we may have stumbled upon something significant. He began working very closely with the SCSO at that point, and he asked me not to mention anything about the Paynesville incidents on my blog. So, I said nothing. We spent the next two and a half months reaching out to Paynesville victims and documenting their cases.

    I finally published the story about the Paynesville incidents on my blog on October 22, 2013 ( If there were others who knew about these cases at that time, I was unaware. To be certain, no one (including law enforcement) had ever taken the time to research these cases to the extent that Jared and I did. So, again, I feel the person who deserves the most credit here is Jared.

    Thanks for asking.

  18. Thank you. How about my follow up question do you and Jared still believe that dah is the Wetterling abductor? Thanks again

  19. joy.the.curious |

    JT, we did a lot of research on Duane Hart because we felt he was a very logical suspect for Jared’s attack. However, to put him on that remote road in St. Joseph is still a stretch. If it’s true that Danny Heinrich was a victim of Hart’s, then things start to make a lot more sense. All I can say is, from what we’ve learned, Hart left a path of destruction in our area that was so wide and deep, people are still trying to recover from it. It is almost unfathomable.

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