Must read. Must see.

That moment when you say to yourself… it was all worth it.

Thank you Troy, Mark, Nathan, and others for sharing your stories in today’s Minneapolis StarTribune. What happened to you was not OK, and you deserved better.

Thank you Jenna Ross, Pam Louwagie, and Renee Jones Schneider for your sensitive and responsible reporting of this important story.


NEXT: Paynesville meeting, STRIB article…


  1. It is very frustrating seeing the impotent response this all received back then by law enforcement, especially considering the significant number of incidents. How these could not have been connected to Jacob is incredulous, and how these incidents were seemingly minimized served these boys incredibly poorly. I SO Respect them for stepping up and sharing their collective traumatic history. And, again, kudos to you, Joy, for picking up the ball that was so shamefully dropped long ago.

  2. Previously people have asked why Heinrich would go to St. Joseph. In the November 15, 2015 Star Tribune article under the subtitle “You already got me,” the attacker approached two boys on bikes, one which he’d already attacked before and the boy yelled,”You already got me.” The attacker seemed to seek boys aged 11-13. Maybe the attacker realized he had begun to make attacks on the same boys in Paynesville and decided it was time to target a new town, maybe St. Joseph?

  3. Thank you so much for helping this become more public and for giving these men the platform to say that the way the police handled it was NOT ok. It has to mean something to them to be able to say that about authority, the feelings of fear and shame and uncertainty for all these years.

  4. Donavon Mickelson |

    GREAT TO READ THE STORIES ABOUT THE BOYS IN THE MINNEAPOLIS PAPER. I cannot believe the lack of follow up work on these cases.

  5. Joy, you are the epitome of an ordinary person doing extraordinary things! Thanks to you and these brave men there may be an ending in sight. Never stop.

  6. Stephanie Wargin |

    Thank you to the men who came forward for this article and interviews/video (MSP Star/Tribune, 11-15-15). Also thanks to Jared for sharing his story with you earlier, Joy. I am sorry that all of you weren’t taken seriously, and also that the police didn’t seem to connect the dots. Joy, thank you for doing that. Jared, I’m sorry that the statue of limitations has run out in your case, now that DNA evidence has linked your assault to Danny Heinrich.

    Quoting from today’s article: A Paynesville Press article from December 1986 described two incidents in which 13-year-old boys were attacked and verbally threatened, one sexually assaulted. “Neither of the victims were seriously harmed,” the article said.

    I find it incredulous that the paper reported that “neither of the victims was seriously harmed”, when, in fact, one had been sexually assaulted.

    Joy, I’ve tried to re-read your blog as it pertains to Jacob W., but your link “start here” brought me to a page with the message “page not found”. I thought I’d read something at one point where it was thought that someone may have been either filming or taking pictures of Jacob at the skating rink? My thought being, it does sound to me like these Paynesville boys, and possibly Jacob, were being stalked, possibly by the same man.

    On another note, is it known whether or not the FBI has located where the bulldozed, burnt house was disposed of, and if so, are they sifting through the debris for evidence linking Mr. Heinrich to Jacob? (I read recently that Danny Heinrich was possibly linked to an arson fire of that home).

    Lastly, Joy please check your “other” box on Facebook. Thank you.

  7. I remember reading somewhere Jacob had told his dad he had feeling of being watched at hockey practice. Heinrich made a habit of watching young boys engaging in activities. Maybe he had broadened his area including sporting arenas.

  8. Mary I recall reading it was Jacob’s dad who felt he may have been being watched at a hockey practice earlier in the day. Or he had some unsettled feeling about Jacob earlier in the day before he was taken. I could be wrong maybe Joy would know.

  9. Hey Joy: I owe you an apology. I was wrong both times. Clarence.

  10. Okay I have finally come to terms with the idea that Heinrich is the abductor I looked at where he worked it was 6 minutes from the tom thumb and therefore 8 minutes from the abduction site. And he lived near Lake Koronis so yes he would have had to drive into Paynesville each time he assaulted a child. I thought he actually lived in Paynesville I mean it might still technically be Paynesville but its not like easy walking distance into the areas where he attacked the kids. So he still most likely had a vehicle stashed somewhere when he attacked the kids. And him following kids with a hidden camera does constitute as stalking. And he had jerseys in his house in Annandale much like the jersey that Jacob was wearing. And he had handcuffs and duct tape like he was thinking about repeating. But it led me to think something. Why hadn’t he repeated after? What was with the catalina and the monte carlo? The bearded man? Why wasn’t a body found? Why did he only move 30 some minutes away to Annandale? What if he had someone else involved? What did he do with the souvenirs? He must of kept them would if he kept them with someone else. The 12th Paynesville case how it was a different car. Not likely Heinrich could have been someone Heinrich knew. Heinrich lived with his dad so he couldn’t have brought Jacob there and he was in the passenger seat but would if he had someone else with a place of their own that he could take him to. He knew they were watching him. He forfeited evidence but also got a lawyer. But he also never repeated and they stopped watching him. As long as the other person didn’t have any strong connection to Heinrich and the property was never a residency of Heinrich’s then the police couldn’t search it and wouldn’t think of it. Heinrich knew Hart what other pedophiles did he know? He had been jailed before maybe it could be a cell mate or someone he worked with. Perhaps someone that he went to school with but that wasn’t a close friend or a known friend of his. He wasn’t well known to Paynesville and he lived there. So its quite possible that he could know someone that people don’t know he knows. As long as he kept away from that person’s house after the abduction no one would know. Maybe he realized that it was only a matter of time before he got caught and he kidnapped Jacob so he didn’t have to abduct again but didn’t have anywhere to keep him and he had been giving someguy his souvenirs and bragging about his assaults with. Could be another military buddy. There was a group of pedophiles in one house and one of the pedos looked young so they made him look even younger and enrolled him into a middle school so he could lure in kids. Not making that up. But the point is one guy took the risk while the others sat back. Maybe the other guy was too afraid earlier but would keep the souvenirs. Heinrich was lonely he didn’t have a lot friends and he hasn’t been looking for a reduced sentence of trying to rat any one out and he has been to jail before. So its possible that he could be protecting someone else.

  11. Joy, I simply wanted to say that it is really amazing when good people come together, as Patty Wetterling has said. It is the Wetterling family, yourself, Jared and the other men who’ve come forward that have helped to keep interest in this case alive within law enforcement and has led to this (I hope and pray) key development. Thank you.

  12. I am so thankful these stories are being told! I hope we will all learn from it and take them seriously to avoid any future tragedies! Thank you to all the men that have been courageous enough to tell their story and especially to Joy Baker for having the fortitude and intuition to follow her instinct and report these!!! Hopefully there will be some resolve. I think there already is! Thank you all!

  13. I commend the men who spoke out recently, it takes courage…especially when you feel as though you didn’t have a voice then. If everyone continues to think, jog memories, etc. perhaps we can all help in piecing together missing information.

  14. Not to say it all was done perfectly (obviously not) police/investigation-wise at the time or even since, but to spend all kinds of energy blaming is useless and negative. Which of us does our jobs flawlesly in every situation? Which one of us makes sense of everything coming our way (consider how many tips and bits of infomration they had coming at them)? I choose to believe the best was done with the information and resources they had at the time – no one would deliberately not act on information they had. Hindsight is definitley 20/20 and I’d like to see more attention given to what is done NOW to solve Jacob’s case and furhter prevent attacks….not keep throwing hands up in disgust of the apparent “shoddy” work done then and over the years. Police officers and investigators are only human. They do many great things and sometimes aren’t able to do what is wanted – provide solid, concrete answews at the moments they are seeked. In this day and age, we need more postivity and working together. I tell my kids, “There are enough negative and mean people in the world. Don’t be one of them.”

  15. Joy , thank you for all you have done and for sharing the information. Everyone waits with hope that the Wetterlings can get the answer to where Jacob is, and the abductor will be brought to justice. Keep on digging, all these cases need to be solved, Godspeed.

  16. yes it is true hind sight is 20/20 and also some investigators are better than others , it certainly sounds like the continued pressure to solve the case . Joy reminding them they had a possible connection to the Paynesville case and Jared’s case brought a new set of eyes or maybe just another look to Jacob’s case . the fact that an officer had had suspected this man and that his tire and shoe prints were a match , that is way too much to miss , and add the facts he fits the description from some of the attacks, and looks like the suspect drawing from Jared .I think even I would have picked up on all that
    Derek it is possible that the attacks stopped because he was remorseful and has been fighting it ever since and using the child porn to help him refrain from any other action
    I don’t think he had any plan to keep or do serious physical harm
    so did something go wrong with his plan or did he let Jacob go and he still did not make it home .
    I wont be surprised to hear about a confession to something

  17. Has anyone seen this article?

    I really believe that Heinrich is the kidnapper. I’m hoping that they will get him to confess.

  18. Great work Joy. Thank you to Troy, Mark and Nathan for coming forward with more detail. Between your stories and Jared’s story, perhaps even more people will have the courage to come forward with additional details. Something is going to break this wide open. This is amazing to see…all of you good and brave people working together.

    And although I agree criticizing past law enforcement isn’t helpful, I think if we look at the intent of the comments we can see people are wanting to validate the boys’ feelings of being dismissed. It was just the way it was back then…but it was hurtful and scary…and it’s okay to acknowledge that. My heart hurts for those boys and how they were not heard.

    Joy…on behalf of mothers everywhere God bless you and your efforts.

  19. What about pleasant lake? If Heinrich had went down 23 going through st. cloud’s industrial drive than that would mean that 10 mins after when the 911 call came in they would have been near pleasant lake. Maybe Jacob reacted to the 911 call over Heinrich’s police scanner.

  20. I think he did repeat again. Didn’t his dad die in 2002? The same year Josh Guimond went missing from Collegeville. The handcuffs and the duct tape he was drunk, the 70s yearbook pictures and the gay teen porn. He changed. He kept the same night M.O but changed his victim age.

  21. About March 1991 a family reported a newspaper boy followed early mornings in Paynesville by a man in a car. The local police would not get up early to check this when Heinrich had initially been under 24 hour surveillance by FBI after Jacob’s abduction. They asked the sheriff’s department to check it, and the deputy ran the car license as belonging to Danny Heinrich, never stopped him! Was this the same tan or gold car that first drove into the Rassier driveway in the afternoon hours before the abduction? _/( If someone in town had been able to see the aura, energy field around people, this man may have stood out.)_/WCCO has a video clip from about Nov. 25; “Investigators take a closer look at Wetterling suspect’s life”, that shows about 8 photos of him at different ages. __I find it sad that Fingerhut staff were putting missing boy flyers into boxes of goods shipped to some customers but investigators must have never asked their HR department if staff had left employment there before Oct. 22nd (based on the profile of occupations he may have worked at). _ 11 year old Jacob reminds me in some ways of 11 year old Maria Goretti of southern Italy who was stabbed by a man who tried to assault her. (There is a 6 part “St. Maria Goretti documentary on You-Tube.) I have read of the number of victims some pedophiles can have (240?); I hope the families affected by this continue to heal.

  22. If I remember correctly, Mr. Rassier thought that the tan colored car, white-topped car, that rapidly turned around in his driveway the day of Jacob’s kidnapping, was a Monte Carlo, with an approximate age between a ’72 and a ’78.
    You’re saying that the newspaper boy was followed by a similar car in ’91. I’m wondering if it’s possible that Heinrich would still have that old of a car in ’91, and if he did, where was it kept at?

    Also, what types of cars did Heinrich’s parents and brothers drive, and were those cars ever searched?

    I’ve read that it was another sex offender who gave Danny Heinrich’s name to authorities in the first place. I can’t recall that offender’s name, but he had known the Heinrich boys for years, according to a former neighbor, and later married their mother. This neighbor claimed that the pedophile was abusing both brothers. The offender later admitted he’d abused Danny’s brother, but he denied abusing Danny. . Does anyone know when this abuser got locked up? The question I’m slowly getting at, while adding more info. here (in case others haven’t read about him before), is what kind of car/s did HE own back then, and were they ever searched?

    If it’s true that Heinrich appeared to be stalking the paperboy, but wasn’t pulled over the deputy that ran his plates, well, if that is the case, it’s another bad blunder by authorities.

    Susan, I’m curious if you have any media links to this information that you shared, and if not–if you heard it from a friend or family member– I hope that they will contact authorities with this information again.

    Something I’ve wondered about what Dan Rassier saw at his house is this. If he saw the same person, possibly the kidnapper, in two different cars (I’m trying to recall, but I think both sitings were on the day of Jacob’s kidnapping?) turning around in his driveway–why would the kidnapper come down the driveway to turn around the second time, if he knew, from his first turn-around, that it was a driveway and not a road? Why wouldn’t he just back down the Rassier’s driveway so he could pull straight out, which would be faster?

    Jim, I agree with your guess that the attacks stopped because the perp. was remorseful (or perhaps now afraid of getting caught), and he’s been using child porn, stalking etc. to fill whatever need he has, but that he hasn’t kidnapped anyone since (at least I pray he hasn’t). I don’t think he had any plan to keep or do serious physical harm to Jacob either, but that Jacob was accidentally killed, perhaps while struggling to escape.

    My apologies for any hurt that that guess may have caused to anyone reading this. I know it’s a delicate subject, and someone’s child that I’m talking about here. And in a way, Jacob is the child of all of us. We wouldn’t be sharing on this blog if his story hadn’t touched us all.

    Two more things. If Mr. Rassier is innocent, and I think he probably is, I hope he gets a formal apology from the authorities, since his life, and that of his family, has been turned upside down.

    It’s also my opinion that Danny Heinrich is the guilty party here, but as with Mr. Rassier, we need to presume that people are innocent until proven guilty. I have my own theory about what may have happened, but theories don’t solve cases–evidence and confessions do. I pray that those are found and gotten.

  23. #ThinkingJacob |

    Derek – I think you might be onto something. Maybe Jacob was not Danny Heinrich’s last victim.

    Danny Heinrich’s father Howard J. Heinrich, 78, of Paynesville, passed away on Wednesday, 02/27/02.
    Josh Guimond (age 20) went missing from Collegeville 11/09/02.

    2 males (Jacob Wetterling and Josh Guimond) go missing 4 miles apart, neither of their bodies ever show up. Coincidence? Maybe not.

  24. I wish a judge would order one of those color-enhanced brain PET scans on this man! You may have seen photos of some of them done as comparisons of people with some types of criminal behavior or significant substance abuse to other people’s normal brains. // I had looked to see if there was any new news on this case and noticed a “my life” site that shows him living in towns like Benson (2006), Waite Park, east side of St. Cloud besides Paynesville, Annandale. Do families in those places know this?

  25. Out of curiosity though, do perps ever change the way they operate that much? It sounds like Heinrich is into young boys, not 20 year olds. Anything is possible I suppose, but does anyone have an idea as to how likely this might be?

  26. SKW – I think it would be possible for a perp to change the way they operate, because of their obsessive personality. I believe one obsession, may be replaced with another obsession.

    For example: I personally know of two woman who where obsessed with food. Both had weight loss reduction surgery to their stomachs. Both, eventually, found a new obsession…alcohol and drugs. One died of a drug overdose, the other is in treatment.

  27. SKW Dahmer murdered mainly young men but in between his killings he exposed himself to a young boy and I think he even molested another a different time. Completely unrelated to his killings. So Heinrich could have all that porn and be stalking kids and that could be completely unrelated to Jacob’s abduction and the things he did in cold spring and Paynesville. He let Aaron and Trevor go and took Jacob first time he had ever let a witness run and go tell the cops before he had even done anything to the victim. He wasn’t coming back and since he didn’t keep him he must have killed him which means he intended on killing him. Not to mention he’s a career criminal. Arson, Robbery, Running from the cops. I think he killed Jacob and then waited got interrogated and interviewed by various groups from 1989 to 1996 at least. So 2002 after all that is only 6 years after all the fallout from Jacob’s abduction. Everyone of Heinrich’s victims are less than 15 years age difference. Every victim in Paynesville was less than 10 years difference. Josh Guimond was 2-4 years younger than Jacob. That and Heinrich wasn’t molesting kids for the sex like I thought he was I thought he was a dirty perv but he’s a psychotic serial rapist potential serial killer. He plans his crimes too much wearing a mask and having like ambush like points or a thought out question to ask along with a place outside the town to take a victim. That and I ignored how many times he attacked before abducting Jacob and just acted like he wasn’t a serial rapist and that maybe by letting his victims go before it was a sign he wasn’t violent but it was the opposite. By letting Jared go instead of taking him to his house or something to keep him is kind of a sign that all he doesn’t actually want to have sex with boys but just commit rape crimes. He wants a different kid each time and he doesn’t mind that the time between each assault is months or years apart. Its the thrill of the crime and getting away with it. Where as a non violent sex offender wouldn’t look at what they were doing as a crime they would look at the way drug users look at taking drugs in which no matter how legal or illegal it is to do they will do it anyway for the fun of doing the drug not the fun of doing it illegally. I also thing Heinrich is involved in Brandon Swanson’s disappearance. Brandon Swanson was 18 years old he was born in 1989. I am pretty sure that Brandon Jacob and Josh all had some kind of sports jersey or article of clothing just like the sports boys clothes found in the Annandale search.

  28. I just heard the FBI AND the public got alot of tapes and movies etc from Danny Heinrich’s house. Shouldn’t they open up EVERY tape and CD to make sure it’s the actual movie in that jacket and not some hidden tape???

  29. Derek – I think I follow your age theory. Wouldn’t Chris Jenkins fall into this age theory, as well? He was 21, when he went missing in 2003.

  30. Look at the article about Jared Fogel on KARE 11 site. I fear alot are doing these awful things in secret. Read about the plea agreements (their top paid attorneys)…. I wonder what Danny’s plea agreement will be?

  31. Mike I totally agree with your Nov 15 comment! We lived so near there and was totally unaware of the assaults!

  32. If he had no plan to kill Jacob after abducting him, he would have for sure been caught. How do you keep a kid around when everyone is looking for you. If the kid escapes he will go to law enforcement and turn the guy in. If he escapes and dies while escaping, its highly probable they would have tracked his body down with dogs or something. Where would he have brought Jacob the night of the abduction and still been able to keep him alive and not have anybody notice?? Its most likely he was dead within a couple hours after the abduction and buried.

  33. Great article. A recent Kare11 article mentions this interesting reference to Heinrich being watched stalking paynesville papper boys in a tan Buick. I have read several references in your blog entries to a suspicious tan sedan.
    “There’s one police report that all these years later, sticks out. In April 1991, a year and a half after Jacob Wetterling was abducted, when Heinrich was 28-years-old, a Stearns County deputy was called in to help with surveillance in Paynesville because a tan colored vehicle was “following or watching paperboys on their morning routes.”

    The deputy soon observed a tan 1984 Buick driven by Danny Heinrich, “at the same time a paper boy was traveling through downtown.”

  34. One fact, is that Jared saw some type of radio scanner in Heinrich’s front seat. Was it just a listening device, or could it have been a hand held CB Transceiver, capable of 2 way conversations?

  35. In October of 1986, Heinrich was already charged with Illegal Radio Equipment. It would be interesting to know if that “illegal” equipment was capable of 2 way conversations.

  36. Donavon Mickelson |

    Illegal radio equipment normally is a Police scanner in the car or even a radio that can transmit on the Police frequencies (which is quite uncommon unless stolen from law enforcement). Many years ago when we got a new Sheriff elected, he tossed out the old walkie talkies and at least one kid found one in the trash and used it and was ticking off law enforcement until the battery finally ran down.

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