Jacob Wetterling

Jacob Wetterling, age 11

On October 22, 1989, eleven year old Jacob Wetterling was abducted near his home in St. Joseph, Minnesota. In 2015, Jacob’s remains were found buried on a farm field in Paynesville after his killer confessed to the crime.

In 2010, I began researching the Jacob Wetterling abduction, which took place in a Minnesota town not far from mine. It’s a case that shook our state to the core, and like so many others, I craved answers and resolution for the Wetterling family.

For six years, I researched and wrote about Jacob’s case, interviewing key witnesses and reporting on archived news stories, in the hopes that someone might come forward with a piece of the puzzle that could solve the case.

That person happened to be Jared Scheierl. He was a 12 year old boy living in Cold Spring, Minnesota (just 10 miles from St. Joseph) when he was abducted and sexually assaulted just nine months prior to Jacob’s abduction.

After discovering an archived newspaper article about a string of unsolved attacks on young boys in nearby Paynesville, Jared and I worked to find and interview these victims, referring them to local law enforcement so they could make official statements.

On October 29, 2015, long time suspect, Danny Heinrich, was arrested at his home in Annandale, Minnesota. Because the statute of limitations on Jared’s case had expired, he was charged with possession of child pornography after a search of his home yielded 19 binders full of explicit photos of young children.

Almost a year later, Heinrich struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors. On Labor Day weekend, Heinrich led investigators to Jacob’s remains, and on Saturday, September 3, 2016, the world learned the awful truth. For almost 27 years, Jacob had been murdered and buried on a farm field in Paynesville, Minnesota… Heinrich’s home town.

Thanks to everyone for following along on this journey and #ThinkingJacob with me.

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