Posts Tagged "Jacob Wetterling"

A possible break?

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It’s that day again… October 22. A few years ago, this day would have come and gone without much thought on my part. Another day, another dollar, another deadline. However, since I started blogging about a certain story three years ago, October 22 now holds a special place in my heart.

That’s because today — October 22, 2013 — marks the 24th anniversary of Jacob Wetterling’s abduction.

Twenty four years? How can that possibly be? It’s hard to believe, but Jacob would be 35 years old today. That smiley kid in the yellow sweater would be 35 years old. But, instead of running his kids to football practice or lamenting over the debut of our new Vikings quarterback, Jacob remains a memory… forever 11 years old… never aging… and never found.

When I first started writing about Jacob three years ago, I was hopeful I could somehow make a difference. I really believed if I could talk to the right people, get the facts straight, and keep the conversation going, that maybe someone somewhere might hold the key that could unlock this 24 year old mystery.

No go. After a lot of effort, the fact remains the same. Jacob remains missing. The case remains unsolved.

But today… maybe just maybe… the key is closer than we think.

Not long after I wrote my last blog post, “Jared’s story,” I was researching a different story when I ran across an old 1987 newspaper article from the Paynesville Press. (Paynesville is a small town about 30 miles from St. Joseph.)

It ran on the front page. Here’s the article:

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Local police seek help in accosting incidents

The Paynesville Police Department is seeking public support in apprehending a man that has been accosting young men in the Paynesville community. So far there have been five different incidents reported.

Sergeant Bill Drager, Paynesville Police Department, said, “We need help, all the help we can get.”

According to Sgt. Drager, the incidents began last summer, there were two more incidents during the winter, one incident occured this spring and another last week.

The police are taking these incidents very seriously.

Sgt. Drager stated, “After this guy grabs the boys he tells them, ‘Don’t turn around or I’ll blow your head off’ and in at least one instance he used a knife.” The man then makes sexual advances to the boys.

The young men that have been assaulted range in age from 12-16 years of age. “The kids are scared,” Sgt. Drager said.

There doesn’t appear to be any pattern to the area that the attacks take place. One incident happened by the river, another in the hockey rink area, downtown Ben Franklin area, middle school playground, and the alley between the middle school and the hospital.

The last incident happened when two young men were riding their bikes home. One young man was grabbed off of his bike and the other young man went for help.

In every instance, the young men had been downtown before they were accosted. “It think he’s picking them out downtown and then following them home or lying in wait for them to go home,” Sgt. Drager said.

Every instance occurred on a weekend night after dark — between 9:30pm and 2:00am.

The suspect wore a mask on several occasions. Sgt. Drager said one young man described the mask as looking like it was made out of indoor-outdoor candy-striped carpeting.

The man is supposedly 5’11” tall, not fat, but chunky. In the last incident, he had blackened everything — so that you couldn’t make out anything on his face. He can run fast, according to witnesses.

The police are encouraging people to call in if they see anything strange or suspicious. “If someone is lurking around or walking on your property — call us,” Sgt. Drager said. “We want calls — that’s preventative more than anything,” he added.

Sgt. Drager also said, “I don’t know if the public’s going to go for it or not, but we may have to go to a curfew.”

There really are not rules to follow if you are accosted. Sgt. Drager suggested, “Holler and run away if you can — it worked the last time.”

Sgt. Drager is also considering talking to the school administrators so that teachers can help make students aware of what is happening.”

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These five assault cases took place between 1986 and 1987… the last one occurring just a year and a half before Jared was assaulted. If you read Jared’s story, you’re probably in full agreement that the M.O. is eerily similar… hockey rink… kids downtown… threat of a gun… authoritative manner… stocky build…

I read the article to Jared over the phone, and he couldn’t believe it. He wanted to know more. So, I emailed the Stearns County Sheriff Department and told them Jared wanted to meet with them so he could learn more about his own case.

Since then, a lot has happened. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Department is now actively investigating these cases. If you have any information, please contact the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department at 320-251-4240 (answered 24/7), or email sheriff@co.stearns.mn.us (reviewed daily).

As for the rest of us, here’s another way we can help. Today, in honor of Jacob Wetterling and all the other missing children, leave your front porch light lit throughout the day and “let your light shine:”

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LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE OCT. 22 FOR JACOB WETTERLING; ALL MISSING CHILDREN

The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center is asking individuals to commit to leaving a porch light lit on Tuesday, Oct. 22 to create hope and light in the world in honor of Jacob Wetterling, who was abducted on Oct. 22, 1989, in St. Joseph. The case remains open and unsolved. Jacob’s story has left an indelible mark on the hearts of thousands, if not millions, of people throughout Minnesota, the United States and the world.

JWRC has always asked families to leave a porch light on to honor Jacob on Oct. 22. In addition to turning on an outside light, JWRC encourages individuals to let their own lights shine. Help a neighbor, talk to your child about safety, support a local child-serving organization, the ideas are endless. There is no greater way to honor Jacob than to create a more hope-filled world.

It’s very rare an abductor comes forward to confess to a crime like this one. but in most cases, the abductor tells someone what they did. If you are able to shine a light into this case by coming forward to law enforcement with information that will lead to answers, JWRC encourages you to take that step. Leads on Jacob’s case can be called into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-THE-LOST.

The JWRC, originally called the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, was founded in 1990 by Patty and Jerry Wetterling following their son’s abduction near St. Joseph. (www.jwrc.org). JWRC has a proven history of educating families and communities to prevent sexual exploitation and abductions of children and also provides victim assistance to families of the missing.

Jacob’s legacy continues to be honored through JWRC, a program of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center. Their mission is to end all forms of child abuse, neglect and exploitation through training, education, advocacy, prevention and awareness, providing care and treatment for children, families and adults.

NEXT: The 1986-87 Paynesville incidents – an update…

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A few answers

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In my blog post dated June 8, “The suspicious cars,” I included an article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press dated November 25, 1989. In the article, police were asking for the public’s help in identifying three suspicious cars that were seen near the Tom Thumb in the days and weeks prior to Jacob’s abduction. The article included two composite sketches, but it was unclear which sketch went with which car. I felt this was important, because after the article ran, an art student came forward to say he was the one driving the smaller, red car and had been in the area looking for things to sketch. He was quickly ruled out as a suspect.

So, which of the two composite sketches was the art student?

IMAG0056_revI was alerted to a similar article that ran in the St. Cloud Times that gives us the answers. It ran one day earlier than the Pioneer Press article, on Friday, November 24.

Here’s a transcript of the article:

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HEADLINE:
FBI seeks tips on 3 drivers

SUBHEAD:
Cars were seen near Jacob’s home

By Kirsten Haukebo
Times Staff Writer

Authorities are seeking information on three cars seen in Jacob Wetterling’s neighborhood before the 11-year-old was abducted at gunpoint Oct. 22.

Sketches of drivers of two of the cars also were released.

FBI spokesman Byron Gigler said the drivers were not prime suspects.

“After intensive investigation in that neighborhood, these vehicles are ones that were pointed out as not fitting in. We’re very anxious to identify the drivers of the vehicles,” he said.

Jacob was biking near his home with his brother and a friend the night of the abduction. The boys were passed by several cars on the dead-end road that evening. Only one of the drivers has been located by authorities.

One of the vehicles sought by investigators is an older maroon car with rectangular or square taillights, described as looking like a 1976 Pontiac Catalina. the rear-end of the car was jacked up. It was seen on 90th Avenue about six weeks before the kidnapping, two weeks before and one week before.

It was seen parked twice at night on the avenue and both times the car left after a resident approached. The driver was seen once in the daytime and had a dark, full beard and was wearing a cap.

A sketch of that driver (No. 1) was based on numerous interviews with witnesses, Gigler said.

A second car was seen in the week before the abduction near 95th Avenue and Seventh Avenue SE, a neighborhood which lies across a field and to the west of the scene of the abduction.

The car was a small, red, older model with white trim, about the size of an American Motors Pacer or Gremlin. It had large rear tires, or a jacked-up rear end. the car had a dealer logo-type license plate on the rear, possibly with a white background and red and blue letters.

An artist’s conception of the driver is sketch No. 2. He wore glasses and a cap and had medium-length hair.

The third car is a red-orange station wagon, possibly jacked up in the rear. That car was seen during the day on Oct 21 or Oct. 22 near Kiwi Court, where the Wetterling family lives. A similar car was seen after dark on 91st Avenue on Oct. 22 about the time the boys were traveling to and from a nearby Tom Thumb store, where they had gone to pick up a video.

Observers did not provide a good descrption of the driver of the station wagon, so no sketch has been done, Gigler said.

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So, now we know “Sketch 2” was the art student who was ruled out as a suspect. He was the one driving the smaller, red Pacer/Gremlin. That leaves “Sketch 1” as the person who was driving the maroon car… the one neighbors I spoke to had a very bad feeling about.

St. Cloud Times November 24, 1989

It’s interesting to note that the person in Sketch 1 looks a lot like this sketch we’ve all seen a thousand times before, sans beard. This sketch was actually generated from a description given by “Jared,” the 12 year old Cold Spring boy who had been abducted and assaulted 9 months prior to Jacob’s disappearance:

Sketch_JaredsAbductor_2

Interestingly, the sketch above was the second composite drawing generated with Jared’s help. It was released on December 14, 1989, nearly a whole year after his assault. However, in the weeks immediately following Jared’s assault (which occured on January 13, 1989), there was a different sketch of the same man… also generated by Jared… and, presumably with a fresher memory:

IMAG0018

And while we’re on the subject of composite sketches, it might be a good time to clarify a few others we’ve seen from this case, time and time again. Take a look at one more article from the St. Cloud Times, dated November 23, 1989:

St. Cloud Times November 24, 1989

St. Cloud Times
November 24, 1989

The guy in the first sketch was the mean, scary guy from the Tom Thumb who was seen outside near the ice machine just 15 minutes before Jacob was abducted. He leered at customers, never made a purchase, and was also seen at another convenience story in Avon, earlier the same day.

The guy in the second sketch was also seen at the Tom Thumb, but two weeks later, on November 5. He was laughing and joking about the abduction, and said something to the clerk like, “That boy will never be seen again.”

The guy in the third sketch tried to abduct a 9 year old boy in New Brighton on November 8.

Following the release of these three sketches, a fourth sketch was released which attempted to combine all three previous sketches of the gray, bald-headed, 50-something white guy. Here is that sketch:

A combination of three previously-released composite sketches (above).

A combination of three previously-released composite sketches (above).

I’m still trying to track down a few key people who I think could answer more questions for me. In the meantime, keep sending your thoughts and suggestions my way. I’m especially interested in speaking to people who have first hand knowledge of this case.

As always, thanks for following along and “thinking Jacob” with me.

NEXT: Jared’s story

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The suspicious cars…

New here? Start from the beginning…

Sorry for the lapse between blog posts lately. We have a son who just graduated from high school, so things have been a bit crazy here. However, I’m back in the groove and ready to kick things back into high gear.

Another reason this post has taken so long to publish is that it has gone through several revisions. I have worked very hard to build trust with the people whose stories I’m sharing here. That means, before I publish anything, I always encourage them to preview my posts to make sure I have all my facts straight. And, as I’m sure you can imagine, this can be a laborious, time-intensive process that involves several rounds of writing, rewriting, and proofing. In the end though, I think the time and effort are worth it. There is good information here… much of which I had never heard before.

I recently had the opportunity to speak to one of the neighbors who used to live near the Tom Thumb in St. Joseph. Though she wasn’t an eyewitness herself, she remembers hearing about several suspicious cars that were seen in her neighborhood in the days and weeks prior to Jacob’s abduction.

As you can see from the screen shot below, the Tom Thumb (which is now a vet clinic) was located just to the east of a residential neighborhood. At the time, it wouldn’t have been uncommon to see several kids buzzing around on any given night. It was a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood where everyone felt safe.

That is, until October 22, 1989… the night Jacob was abducted.

The Tom Thumb was located in the building where the vet clinic is now located.

The Tom Thumb was located in the building where the St. Joseph Veterinary Clinic is now located. Click photo to see a larger view.

If you have followed this case from the beginning, you may remember there were early reports of a small, red “Chevette” that was seen in the area (and at the Tom Thumb) just prior to Jacob’s abduction. It was also seen over by the Del-Win, where the National Guard Armory is now. When this information was made public, an art student came forward to say he was most likely the person seen driving around the neighborhood in a red car. He had been in the area looking for things to sketch. Police verified his story, then quickly moved on to cover new leads.

However, the neighbor I spoke to wonders if police may have moved on too quickly. If the art student drove a small, red car, then what about the other car (or cars) neighbors had reported seeing? There was one in particular that was darker and larger… possibly maroon… with distinctive tail lights. What ever became of that lead?

Again, I was reminded that, in the days immediately following Jacob’s abduction, all information related to any unfamiliar vehicles in the area was shared with the FBI and police. A few neighbors even gave eyewitness statements, which are included in the official case file.

I wondered if I could take a look at those official statements. So, I contacted Captain Pam Jensen of the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department, the lead investigator on the Wetterling case since 1999. She told me that anyone who made an official statement in this case could request a copy of it through the records department at (320) 259-3700. However, for those whose information was included as part of a report but not an official statement, they may be out of luck. However, Captain Jensen said they were welcome to check.

So, without direct access to any official eyewitness statements, I was a bit stuck. I wasn’t willing to put any wrong information out there about these cars, so I decided to do a little digging. I went back and searched a bunch of old newspapers to see if I could find any information about the suspicious cars that had been spotted in the neighborhood near the Tom Thumb.

Lucky for me, I found a fantastic article published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on November 25, 1989 (about one month after the abduction). In the article, authorities are asking for the public’s help in identifying three different cars that were seen around St. Joseph in the days and weeks prior to the abduction.

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St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
November 25, 1989 Section: Metro
Edition: AM Metro Final Page: 8A

3 CARS, DRIVERS SOUGHT IN WETTERLING CASE Wayne Wangstad, Staff Writer

The task force investigating the Jacob Wetterling kidnapping is seeking public assistance in locating and identifying three vehicles and their drivers who were seen at or near the abduction scene before and on Oct. 22, the day Jacob was taken from his St. Joseph, Minn., neighborhood.

Several vehicles drove past Jacob, his brother and a friend while they were going to or returning from a Tom Thumb store near their home.

“We’ve been able to verify the existence of all the vehicles in the area except these three,” FBI spokesman Byron Gigler said. “It’s the type of neighborhood where you don’t get much through traffic because it is, basically, a dead end street.”

The three vehicles all had one item in common – their rear ends apparently had been jacked up. Sightings by witnesses all occurred in the early evening or at night.
“We’re not saying this is our man and this is our car; we’re just saying we need to locate and identify them,” Gigler said.

The task force, composed of the FBI, Stearns County deputies and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents, also released composite drawings of the drivers of two of the three vehicles. An artist’s drawing of the third driver was not available.

The first car is older. It is maroon – the color of a Minnesota State Trooper’s uniform – and has rectangular or square tail lights, and appears similar to a 1976 Pontiac Catalina. Like the other cars, its rear end was jacked up.

FBI agents said the car was seen on 90th Avenue near the Wetterling home about six weeks before Jacob’s abduction and again a week before he was kidnapped at gunpoint. On two occasions, the car was seen parked at night on 90th Avenue, but it left when a resident approached. The driver was seen once during daylight and a composite drawing was made based on that sighting.

The second car is an older smaller car that is about the size of an American Motors Pacer or Gremlin. The car is red with white trim and has large rear tires and a jacked-up rear end. Dealer or logo-style license plates – they may have had red and blue letters on a white background – were mounted on the rear of the car. It was seen a week before the abduction in an area west of the abduction scene.

The third car is a red-orange station wagon with a rear end that may have been jacked up. The car was seen during the day on Oct. 21 or Oct. 22 in the area of Kiwi Court in St. Joseph. A similar car was seen after dark near the abduction scene on Oct. 22, about the time the boys would have been going to and from the store.

Stearns County authorities and the FBI said people with information on the vehicles should call the task force’s 24-hour phone at 612-259-3981. Callers should provide as much information as possible, authorities said.

Illustration:2 Drawings
These are composite drawings of drivers of two of the three cars investigators seek more information about in the Jacob Wetterling kidnapping case.

Copyright (c) 1989 St. Paul Pioneer Press

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CompositeSketches_SuspiciousCars_800x600

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So, if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what a 1976 Pontiac Catalina looks like. I was also curious what kind of tail lights a 1976 Pontiac Catalina had. I Googled it and found the following images:

1976 Pontiac Catalina

1976 Pontiac Catalina

1976PontiacCatalina

1976PontiacCatalina-4

1976PontiacCatalina-3

You probably also latched on to the fact that all three of these suspicious cars may have been “jacked up” in the back. What are the chances of that? The year was 1989 after all, not 1979. I wondered what kind of person drove a jacked-up car in 1989. It seems to me it would be a younger “gear-head type”… 20s to 30s vs. 40s to 50s.

Of the three cars described in the article, I also wondered which one had belonged to the art student who was eventually cleared. I may be wrong, but I believe it was the smaller red Geo Metro or AMC Pacer that was driven by the art student. Not sure about this though. I will try and find out. I’m also not sure which of the men in the composite sketches above goes with which car. I’ll try and find that out, as well.

So now… I have to admit… after learning all this information about the suspicious cars that were lurking around the area just prior to Jacob’s abduction, my theory about the case has changed a bit. I was always “of the camp” that believed this was a crime of opportunity, not a carefully thought-out plan carried out by a seasoned stalker. However, now I’m not so sure. I’ll discuss this more in my next blog post.

In the mean time, feel free to share your own thoughts about these cars. Also, if you happened to live in St. Joe at the time and witnessed one or more of these suspicious cars, I’d be especially interested in talking to you.

NEXT TIME: A few answers…

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Dan’s story covered on WCCO news

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The following story from WCCO ran on May 14, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Reported by Esme Murphy – WCCO-TV has learned that a key piece of evidence in the Jacob Wetterling abduction — a 911 call — was never saved.

In October 1989, a masked gunman kidnapped Jacob Wetterling in St. Joseph. The 11-year-old was taken at the end of Dan Rassier’s ¼-mile long driveway. Rassier is the only person ever named a “person of interest” in the case, but he says he had nothing to do with it.

Wetterling is the boy who grew up only through computer enhancement. He was kidnapped by a man as he rode his bike with his brother and a friend, Aaron Larson.

“He grabbed Jacob and he told me to run as fast as I could into the woods or else he would shoot,” Larson said.

Rassier was 34 years old at the time of the abduction, and he worked as a band teacher at the Rocori School District. He lived as he still does, on a farm with his elderly parents, who were in Europe that night he was home alone.

In the past year, Rassier has begun working with a local blogger, Joy Baker, to put out information about what he really did and saw that night.

“How can I clear my name without getting the crime solved,” Rassier said.

He insists the key to the case is a tan car similar a Monte Carlo that he told police sped into his yard the afternoon of the abduction.

“I’m convinced 100 percent whoever was driving that afternoon car…you have your kidnapper. No one drives like that in broad daylight,” Rassier said. “That is what I told police from the beginning.”

Rassier says later that night, before he went to bed, he saw a second car come into his driveway and turn around — a car that does not match the description of a car investigators ruled out in 2004.

The abduction happened at about 9:15 p.m. Larson and Trevor Wetterling ran the ½-mile back to the Wetterling home. A neighbor and the boys called 911 at 9:32 p.m.

Law enforcement was on the scene in eight minutes.

For the first time, Rassier is talking about what investigators acknowledge is true: two hours after the abduction Rassier had two documented contacts with law enforcement. The first was a 911 call which WCCO has learned law enforcement never saved.

While it’s been widely reported that Rassier went to bed immediately after calling 911, WCCO has learned he had a second contact with law enforcement that night: a face-to-face conversation with a sheriff’s deputy.

Rassier says he called 911 when his dog woke him up and he saw flashlights by his woodpile. He thought someone was stealing wood.

“They told me it was a kidnapping, and I go, ‘Oh, really?’ That was pretty much it, and I walked up the hill and talked to one of the sheriff’s people,” Rassier said.

Just months ago, Rassier found out the deputy he talked to was Bruce Bechtold, who is now the chief deputy for Stearns County.

Rassier says after he searched the buildings on the farm property and returned to the farmhouse, law enforcement was everywhere.

“They had a chopper up with a spotlight on,” Rassier said.

The Stearns County Sheriff Department says Rassier’s 911 call came at 11:23 p.m., but it was never saved.

Rassier says he is shocked that the audio was not saved.

He says investigators not only told him they had the audio but that in the call he sounded suspicious. He said a BCA agent told him, “they are saying you were way too nervous, way too upset to be concerned about some wood being stolen.”

Joe Tamburino, a Twin Cities Criminal Defense Attorney, says the 911 call is a key bit of evidence that could provide insight on Rassier’s reaction to news of the abduction.

”Now we will never know,” Tamburino said.

Tamburino added at a trial the fact that the 911 call was not saved would almost certainly lead to questions about what other evidence had not been preserved.

Rassier was not questioned until the morning after the abduction when he was pulled out of his class by detectives who searched his car and questioned him for 45 minutes. He said he did not feel as if investigators were looking at him.

Six days after the kidnapping, law enforcement searched the farm.

“They wanted me to do this lie detector test and I said sure.” Rassier said.

He took the lie detector test, but said he has never been told the results.

Rassier also agreed to be hypnotized. For the next month, he answered law enforcement questions under hypnosis.

For the next 14 years, investigators did not focus on Rassier. Instead, their priority was to find a car that had left a tire track on the Rassier’s driveway.

In 2004, investigators got their big break. A man came forward and said he had driven down the driveway that night. Investigators quickly ruled him out and the investigation took a dramatic turn: Investigators concluded Jacob’s kidnapper had been on foot.

Rassier was again called in for questioning. A BCA agent asked him to confess.

“He was basically saying, we don’t have anything on you but would you admit…we could end this and you admit that you did this,” Rassier said. “And I remember laughing, going ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’”

In 2009, Rassier agreed to meet with Patty Wetterling where he said he repeatedly denied any involvement.

Rassier also told Wetterling where he thought a body could be hidden on his property.

“The person in the area who probably did this could have taken Jacob’s body and hidden it in our gravel pit,” Rassier told Patty Wetterling.

In 2010, law enforcement conducted a highly-publicized search of the Rassier farm, including the gravel pit, and found nothing.

In just the past year, Rassier, who is still a band teacher at the Rocori School District, has written 14 letters to law enforcement agencies, criticizing the investigation and asking that his name be cleared.

“We want to get this case solved,” Rassier said.

Rassier worries it may be too late, however.

“That is one big fear I have — that there is no one alive who knows what happened,” Rassier said.

The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on why the 911 call was never saved and said Bech, the chief deputy, was not available for an interview.

When WCCO shared the details of this story with Patty Wetterling, she said, “It’s time to bring Jacob home. We need our answers.”

If you have any tips about Jacob Wetterling’s whereabouts, please call 320-251-4240.

NEXT: Esme Murphy interviews Patty Wetterling on WCCO radio

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A stunner in Cleveland

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If you’re like me, the news about the three young women who were rescued in Cleveland earlier this week left you completely stunned. I was getting ready for work when the news came on the TV. I walked over, turned up the volume, and stood there transfixed. Three young women… missing for ten years… all found. What are the odds?

Well, the odds are not good, I’m afraid. But still… if it can happen in Cleveland…

I have a feeling there’s a lot to be learned from this story. For one thing, all three young women were abducted within blocks of one another. They were found living in a home only three miles from where they were abducted. The person who took them, Ariel Castro, was a school bus driver. And his own daughter had been a friend of one of the girls (Gina DeJesus).

So, what can be learned from this?

Again, I go back to the idea that maybe Jacob’s disappearance isn’t that complicated after all. Maybe it’s just a matter of probabilities. In my last post, I referenced a report that analyzed the demographic and psychological profiles of pedophiles who ABDUCT their victims vs. those who don’t. The main difference was that pedophiles who ABDUCT had lower social skills than non-abductors and a lower amount of contact with children.

In addition, there was another table further back in the report (page 76 of the PDF) which showed more details of the abductor’s profile.

OJJDP_pg76

I think the most telling piece of information in this table is the statistic showing “Relationship to Victims.” In the case of the abductor, they knew their victims 66% of the time. That’s a pretty big percentage. Breaking that down further, 58% of the victims were “acquaintances” of the abductor, and 8% were family members.

Using this information, we can continue to build on the profile we started earlier. In particular, there’s more than a 50% chance that Jacob’s abductor knew him or his family (even if it was only remotely).

Another thing I think we can learn from the Cleveland case is that there’s no such thing as coincidence. One person took all three girls. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that another boy, Jared, was abducted and sexually assaulted only 10 months prior to Jacob’s disappearance. It was in a town less than 10 miles away, and the M.O.’s were eerily similar (i.e., the abductor in both cases said, “Start running and don’t turn around or I’ll shoot.”). Also, the car used in Jared’s abduction was a small, dark, compact… described as being similar to a Chevy Celebrity. Keep in mind, the car Dan witnessed turning around in his driveway at about the time Jacob was abducted was also a small, dark, compact.

Interesting.

Speaking of cars… this week, a colleague of Dan Rassier’s put him in touch with a former resident from St. Joseph who used to live near the Tom Thumb. She told him that in the days prior to Jacob’s abduction, there were some suspicious cars lurking around the neighborhood, which she and her husband reported to police. I plan to speak to these former St. Joseph residents in my next blog post.

In the meantime, please say a prayer of gratitude for the three young women who were rescued and returned to their families this week. Also, say a prayer of hope for Jacob. After all, if it can happen in Cleveland…

NEXT: Dan Rassier is interviewed by Esme Murphy, an investigative journalist with WCCO News in Minneapolis…

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