Posts Tagged "Jacob Wetterling"

Live radio interview with Esme Murphy on WCCO

Yesterday, Esme Murphy interviewed Jared and me on the Chad Hartman Show on News Radio 830 WCCO. We spoke to her during the entire first hour of the show, then Patty Wetterling called in and shared more information during the second hour of the show.

Esme Murphy, WCCO

Esme Murphy, WCCO

I’d personally like to thank Esme Murphy for her heart and dedication in covering this story. She originally wanted to air it last October when she first learned about the Paynesville cases on my blog, but we didn’t feel we were ready yet. Jared felt strongly that victims needed to be contacted personally in order to respect their privacy and their boundaries. We were afraid that any intervention by big media would only make things worse instead of better.

So, we put her off for seven months while we researched these cases and talked to Paynesville residents. It wasn’t until another Minneapolis news station started looking at the case that we finally agreed to talk to Esme Murphy.

She has been respectful and kind, and has taken the time to research the details in order to get the facts straight. I’m especially appreciative to her for working with us every step of the way to cover the story the way we wanted it covered. Thanks Esme.

To download the MP3 files and listen to the full podcasts, click the following links:

WCCORadioInterview-1

WCCORadioInterview-2

NEXT: Holy media blitz!

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Part 2 – WCCO-TV covers Jared’s story

WCCO-TV_May15_2014

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Few Minnesota crimes are as notorious as the unsolved abduction of Jacob Wetterling. A masked stranger grabbed the 11-year-old as he biked home from a store in St. Joseph on October 22, 1989.

Esme Murphy, WCCO

Esme Murphy, WCCO

Nearly 25 years later, everyone remembers Wetterling’s name. But many have likely never heard of Jared. Just nine months before Wetterling disappeared, a stranger kidnapped that 12-year-old boy in nearby Cold Spring.

Six weeks after Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped, FBI Special Agent Jeff Jamar announced they had knowledge of the other victim.

Jared, speaking publicly for the first time in years, told WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy, “This guy stepped out of a vehicle, said ‘I have a gun I am not afraid to use it. Get into the vehicle.’”
The man who had a police scanner in his car drove Jared to this remote site, sexually assaulted him, then let him go.

“I was told to run don’t look back or he would shoot,” Jared said.
His description of the kidnapper’s threat is almost identical to the one described by Jacob Wetterling’s friend, Aaron.
“He grabbed Jacob and told me to run as fast as he could or he would shoot,” Trevor Wetterling said.

For Jared, the weeks after the Wetterling abduction were filled with grueling interviews with law enforcement.

“They brought me to a point where I broke down, just mentally broke down. They wanted the answer and I didn’t have the answer,” Jared said. “My parents made that decision we should move.”
Jared left Cold Spring, and for 25 years anniversaries passed with no answers and no arrests.
“I learned how to focus on other things,” Jared said.

That all changed last August when Jared was contacted by Joy Baker, the author of a detailed blog on the Wetterling case. Baker had uncovered newspaper articles about a series of sexual assaults in Paynesville in 1986 and 1987, two years before Jacob Wetterling and Jared’s kidnappings. Paynesville is just a few miles from where both boys were abducted.

The police reports and newspaper articles cited by Baker reveal striking parallels between the cases. The boys were all attacked as they headed home on bikes, they were sexually assaulted, the attacker wore a mask, had a low voice and threatened victims with a knife or gun.

Jared believes the same person who took him not only took Jacob Wetterling but is also behind the Paynesville attacks.

“When I first saw them, there was a big sigh that I am not the only one who had made eye contact with this person,” Jared said.

For the past nine months, Jared has worked with Baker to try encourage witnesses to come forward.
“I think it’s time for people to share their stories,” Baker said.

At the same time, Jared worries about the Paynesville victims.

“I apologize to the victims and people that we have already talked to, that we are going to talk to about bringing up 27-year-old repressed memories,” he said.

Over the years Jared and Jacob Wetterling’s mother have become friends.

“I am so grateful to Jared and Joy digging,” Patty Wetterling said.

She too is hoping someone will come forward for the Paynesville victims, for Jared and for her son.
“I do think there is a strong possibility they could be connected,” she said. “Every one of these victims needs answers. Are they tied to Jacob? Let’s find out.”

——-

The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office is now actively investigating all of the Paynesville cases to see if they are connected to Jacob Wetterling’s disappearance.

If you have any information about the Paynesville attacks or the Wetterling case, please call the Stearns County Sheriff at (320) 251-4240. You can also call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.

NEXT: Live radio interview with Esme Murphy on WCCO…

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WCCO-TV features 1986-1987 Paynesville cases

WCCO-TV_May14_2014

New Developments Revealed In Jacob Wetterling Abduction Case
May 14, 2014 10:00 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is a new development tonight in one of Minnesota’s most infamous unsolved crimes: the abduction of Jacob Wetterling.

A masked stranger grabbed the 11-year-old as he biked home from a store in St. Joseph nearly 25 years ago. Now, WCCO-TV has learned that a cluster of at least six unsolved sexual assaults on boys were never looked at as a possible lead in Wetterling’s case.

Esme Murphy, WCCO

Esme Murphy, WCCO

Those attacks happened two years prior to Wetterling’s kidnapping, just 30 miles away in Paynesville. They are now being investigated by the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office.

This new development in Minnesota’s most notorious kidnapping case begins in the most unlikely of places.

For four years, Joy Baker, a blogger from New London, has written a detailed blog about the Wetterling case. Last summer, her research uncovered articles in the Paynesville Press in 1986 and 1987. They detailed six unsolved sexual assaults on boys just two years before Wetterling’s abduction.

“The police chief is asking for the public’s help in finding this guy who has been assaulting 12-16 year old boys,” Baker said of one article. “What went through my mind is that they have to be connected. How many psychopathic pedophiles can exist in a 20-mile radius?”

WCCO-TV asked Patty Wetterling if she had ever heard of the Paynesville cases and showed her two of the original police reports from the Paynesville attacks.

“We did not know about these cases until Joy Baker put it on her blog, and it was like, ‘Wow,’” Patty Wetterling said.

Those reports, as well as the newspaper accounts, list a series of striking parallels with Jacob Wetterling’s kidnapping. He was abducted at 9 p.m. as he rode his bike home from a convenience store with his brother and friend. The Paynesville attacks also all happened at night as the victims were heading home.

In two cases boys were attacked while riding bikes. They were sexually assaulted. The attacker sometimes wore a mask, which in one case was described as made from candy-striped, indoor-outdoor carpeting. He had a low, gruff voice and he threatened the boys with a knife or a gun, saying he would blow their heads off.

“Some of these were taken from a group of boys. That is really rare,” Patty Wetterling said. “The threat of a gun, the age of the victims, they were close to Jacob’s age. I do think there is a strong possibility they are connected to Jacob’s case.”

While two of the Paynesville victims were questioned by law enforcement after Jacob Wetterling disappeared, one Paynesville victim, who is now 40 and did not want to be named, told WCCO-TV he and other victims he knows were not, and that to this day they feel their cases both individually and as a group were overlooked.

Patty Wetterling said it’s frustrating to learn so many years later about the Paynesville cases, but she is also understanding.

“It was a different world back then. We didn’t have the Internet, we worked hard so that each law enforcement agency had a fax machine,” she said.

Current Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner agreed the lack of Internet and the fact that small town law enforcement agencies often acted independently may have kept the Paynesville cases from becoming a significant part of the Jacob Wetterling investigation.

“We can’t look back. We are actively investigating these cases now. We want anyone with any information to come forward no matter how small. You could hold the key,” Sanner said.

Sanner stressed there is another unsolved case that investigators have always linked to the abduction. Just months before Jacob Wetterling disappeared, a stranger kidnapped a 12-year-old boy named Jared in nearby Cold Spring. Jared told WCCO-TV the threat his kidnapper left him with: “I was told to run, don’t look back or he would shoot.”
Jared is speaking out for the first time in years. On Thursday, hear why he’s convinced the same man is behind all of these unsolved crimes against boys.

If you have any information about any of these cases, please call the Stearns County Sheriff at (320) 251-4240. You can also call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.

NEXT: Part 2 – WCCO-TV covers Jared’s story…

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The 1986-87 Paynesville incidents – an update

New here? Start from the beginning

Last summer, I met and interviewed Jared for the first time. He was the 12 year old boy from Cold Spring, Minnesota who was abducted and assaulted in a town just 12 miles away and only nine months prior to Jacob Wetterling’s abduction from St. Joseph.

Not long after I met Jared, I discovered an article in a 1987 edition of the Paynesville Press that talked about five recent attacks on young teenage boys. In that article, local police were asking for the public’s help in identifying a man who had been accosting boys between the ages of 12-16. The first incident took place in the summer of 1986, followed by two more in the winter of 1987, and then two more in the spring of 1987.

The five incidents that were mentioned in the article sounded eerily similar to both Jacob’s and Jared’s attacks. In the article, Sergeant Bill Drager (now deceased) stated, “After this guy grabs the boys he tells them, ‘Don’t turn around or I’ll blow your head off.'”

Here’s a map I created so I could get a better sense of where all these attacks took place:


View Paynesville Incidents, 1986-1989 in a larger map

Since learning about these cases, Jared and I have been working very hard to find answers. In January, Jared wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Paynesville Press, asking for the public’s help in finding the victims of these attacks, or anyone with details that might link his case to these. After many months of gathering research, talking to residents, and tracking down victims, we finally have an update to report.

The stories are startling.

Victim #1 was attacked at about 12:45am on February 14, 1987… Valentine’s Day. He lived in an apartment above one of the downtown buildings, and had just returned home from dropping off a friend. When he opened the door to the building, a man was standing on the stairway that led to the upstairs. He was wearing a dark blue down-filled coat, and a “candy-striped face mask” that looked like it had been made out of short shag carpet. The suspect grabbed the boy by the neck and threw him to the floor. When he started to scream for help, the suspect told him to be quiet or he would kill him. After the attack, the man asked what grade he was in, then stole his wallet and took off running. He was about 5’10” to 5’11”, kind of heavyset, and spoke in a deep whisper. The boy guessed his age to be mid-30s and felt he had been waiting for him to come home.

Victim #2 was riding his bike home after dark on a weekend night and was attacked in the alley between the middle school and the hospital. The suspect had been hiding in some pine trees. After the attack, the suspect pulled out a knife and cut off a lock of the boy’s hair. The man then told him to run away and not look back or he would blow his head off.

Victim #3 was attacked while he and his friend were riding their bikes just after midnight near the hockey rink at the Catholic church. The boy thought he heard someone running into the street when suddenly, someone grabbed him by the throat and pulled him off his bike. The boy screamed while his friend went for help. This time the man was wearing dark blue or black clothing and his face was blacked-out. The boy continued to yell, and finally the man let him go and ran away. (NOTE, there are two very important details about this attack. First, this victim is the same person as Victim #1. It turns out he was attacked twice. Second, the victim felt he was not the intended target for this second attack because he lived six blocks away, but his friend lived in an apartment just kiddie-corner from the Catholic church. The friend is 100% certain the guy got the wrong kid, and that’s why he was let go.)

Victim #4 was also attacked while he was returning home after dark. He was 14 years old and had been hanging out downtown with his 16 year old brother. It was September 1987 and their parents were away for the weekend, so their older brother (age 19-20) was staying with them to watch over the house. The family lived off River Street on Lyndall Avenue, just blocks from downtown. The younger brother was on his bike, and as he neared the alley that led down the hill to his house, he thought he saw someone dart across the dark alley. By this time, all the kids knew about “the molestor,” so he got scared and started biking slower, waiting for his brother to catch up. When he saw him coming, he continued on his way, left his bike in the yard, and started up the porch steps. Just then, he heard someone bump into the aluminum lawnchairs on the porch. Terrified, he took off running back up the alley, being chased by the suspect. When the boy reached his older brother up on the street, the suspect suddenly stopped when he saw there were two of them. Luckily, he was directly under a streetlight where the boys could get a good look at him. While they were unable to identify his face because it was blacked out, they have a vivid memory of what he was wearing. He had on an old 70s-era parka – the kind with a fuzzy hood and bright orange lining. It was unzipped, so they’re clear about the color of the lining. I’ve included a sample photo below. (NOTE, what’s important about this attack is that it occurred AFTER the original five incidents that were mentioned in the newspaper article. So, four months after police had already warned the public about this guy and asked for their help in finding him, he was STILL attacking kids in the same town using the same M.O.)

So, of the five cases mentioned in the article, we have now found the victims of three of them, plus a new one altogether. We are still missing information about the attack that took place at the middle school playground, and the one that was “down by the river.”

What’s most disturbing about these cases is that they were not random. In every case we found, the victim was either attacked at or near his own home. The suspect knew who the boys were, where they lived, and when they would be on their way home. Also, it’s interesting to note that the attacks all happened after dark on a weekend night, after the boys had been hanging out downtown. Papa’s Pizza was a popular hangout because of the arcade games.

Prior to these cases, there was also another incident that took place in 1986 by G&T Foods in downtown Paynesville. Here’s the text from the article that ran in the April 1, 1986 edition of the Paynesville Press:

On March 9, 1986, the police department received a report of a possible attempted child abduction. While walking near G&T Foods, a 12-year-old boy was asked if he wanted a ride, then asked if he wanted to go to “toyland”. The boy said “no” to both questions and continued walking. The suspect’s car was described as and old blue four-door, square in size.

We’re hoping that by sharing these stories, someone might come forward with a piece of information that could help solve these cases, and possibly Jared’s and Jacob’s as well. We are especially thankful to the young men who were willing to share their stories with us for this article.

Anyone with information is encouraged to leave a comment below, or call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office at 320-251-4240.

NEXT: WCCO-TV features 1986-1987 Paynesville cases…

Former Ben Franklin store, downtown Paynesville

Former Ben Franklin store, downtown Paynesville

Alley between the hospital and the middle school

Alley between the hospital and the middle school

"By the hockey rink" - south side of the Catholic church, looking east

“By the hockey rink” – south side of the Catholic church, looking east

Former G&T Foods building, downtown Paynesville

Former G&T Foods building, downtown Paynesville

Crow River

Vintage 70s-era parka with orange lining

Vintage 70s-era parka with orange lining

NEXT: WCCO-TV features 1986-1987 Paynesville cases…

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“Embracing the Past”

New here? Start from the beginning…

Thanks to all of you who have been following my Jacob Wetterling story. It’s been almost a year since I started this blog topic (the second time around), after I was contacted by Dan Rassier last January. Since that time, I have learned a lot about this case, thanks in part to witnesses like Dan, Kevin, and Jared who have been willing to share their stories with me.

From the beginning, my goal has been to stick to the facts and eliminate wrong or misleading information. So far, this has worked out well. I truly believe this case is solvable, but only if people are willing to come together and share their stories.

Times have changed a lot since 1989. Information moves faster than ever before, and we must take advantage of this because, unfortunately, time is not on our side.

Next fall will mark the 25th anniversary of Jacob Wetterling’s abduction. However, one week from today, on January 13, 2014, we will also observe another important milestone in this case… the 25th anniversary of Jared’s abduction. He was “the other boy” – the 12 year kid from Cold Spring who was abducted and assaulted 9 months prior to Jacob.

I’ve gotten to know Jared over the past several months, and as we’ve collaborated on his case, I’ve noticed him evolve from a casual contributor to an impassioned man on a mission. In fact, it was his persistence that led me to discover an article from a 1987 issue of the Paynesville Press that mentioned five other cases of assaults on young boys that sounded surprisingly similar to his own. (If you missed that blog post, read it here.)

Since that time, Jared has been working closely with the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department to learn more about these cases from 1986-1987. Unfortunately, eyewitness accounts have been lost or destroyed over time, so Jared is now reaching out to the public for help.

Just this week, Jared submitted an article to the Paynesville Press that will run in tomorrow’s paper. I’m including a copy of the article below, as well as a Google map which shows the approximate locations of each of the 1986-1987 incidents. (I compiled this information from archived newspaper articles and input from longtime Paynesville residents.)

We are hoping this information will shed new light on these cases and bring renewed hope to the victims. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office 320-251-4240 (answered 24/7), or email sheriff@co.stearns.mn.us (reviewed daily).


View Paynesville Incidents, 1986-1989 in a larger map

Embracing the Past

On Friday, January 13, 1989 I was the victim of an assault. I was 12 years old and lived in Cold Spring at the time. An unknown man approached me in a car, asked for directions, and abducted me. Twenty-five years have passed and I’ve dealt with many emotions through the years… a time of being scared, a time of anger, a time of solitude and loneliness, a time of resolution… but still waiting for closure.

I’ve learned to deal with my past. I moved on, but never forgot.

Recently I discovered that Paynesville had some similar incidents take place back in 1986-1987. There were at least five attacks on 12-16 year old boys with details similar to mine. I’ve been investigating these attacks and am trying to learn more details from victims or anyone else who lived in the community at the time. Paynesville is a small town. People know people. I hope something may come from this.

The similarities between the cases are as follows:

  • Suspect is authoritative in manner
  • He threatened the use of a knife or gun
  • In most cases he wore a mask
  • Boys were all similar ages
  • Suspect took keepsakes from victims
  • Most of these assaults happened in or around downtown

Around the same time these attacks happened, there was a sexual predator from around the area who was arrested and convicted in 1990. He is still locked up. He had a history of using drugs or alcohol to subdue his victims. Over the years, I did line-ups with this man and was questioned extensively to see if I would recognize him. He was never charged in my case and, to this day, he denies any involvement.

So who did this? I’m at the point in my life where I’m wondering if I’ve done everything I can to help solve this investigation. I would like to find and talk to these other victims. Maybe it seems like it’s easier to forget and move on, but we need to understand we’re a part of something bigger.

Because of the similarities of our two cases, I’ve been involved with the Jacob Wetterling investigation for 24 years. Now I need your help. The only way these cases are going to get solved is by people coming together and sharing their stories. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office needs new statements from victims. Anyone who knows any information about the incidents in 1986-1987, or any other attempted attacks, is encouraged to come forward.

Twenty-five years ago, this man left me with these words, “It’s OK to talk about this, but if they come close to finding me, I’ll find you after school and kill you… before they find me. Now run, and don’t look back or I’ll shoot.”

I have lived with the stress of this event all my life, and in ways, it defines who I am. I suspect other victims live with the same stress, and I would like to speak with them. People with information can call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office at 320-251-4240. If you are a victim, they will refer you to me.

NEXT: The 1986-87 Paynesville incidents – an update

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