On Saturday, Stearns County authorities announced that they located the remains of an 11-year-old boy who had gone missing 27 years ago. Jacob Wetterling’s abduction has haunted Minnesota ever since and sparked a nationwide revamp of sex offender laws.
Reportedly, a masked man carrying a gun kidnapped the boy from a road near the child’s home in Oct. 1989. After nearly three decades, forensic examiners have confirmed that “Jacob Wetterling’s remains have been located.”
Investigators said that they are waiting for DNA testing results while they continue to analyze fresh evidence in the case. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office pledged to come up with updates early this week.
Officers told reporters that “a person of interest” showed authorities where the boy’s remains may be last week. Reportedly, the kidnapper killed and buried the boy in a field in central Minnesota.
The officers involved in the case refused to provide more details citing an ongoing investigation. But apparently, forensics also found new evidence at the place where they found the boy’s remains.
Jacob’s parents told a local TV station that they were heart-broken. The Waterrlings confirmed the police have found their son’s remains.
According to witnesses’ accounts, the boy was riding his bicycle along with a friend and his brother when a gunman kidnapped him. Back then, investigators said that the suspect told the other two boys to disappear.
No one has ever seen Jacob alive since that day. Authorities, parents, and local residents conducted extensive searches and offered monetary rewards but to no avail. Also, despite countless leads, law enforcement agents failed to find the boy.
His smiling face haunted Minnesotans for years, as a photo of him featured on multiple billboards for several years.
In 1994, Congress decided to change sex-offender registration rules throughout the nation. The law, which carries Jacob Wetterling’s name now forces states to set up registries on sex predators.
New “Person of Interest”
In 2015, investigators decided to sift again through the case’s documents. They found that Danny Heinrich, an Annandale resident, could provide them with additional hints on the case.
Heinrich, who is 53 years old now, was recently arrested in a child pornography case. In 1989, he denied any involvement in the boy’s kidnapping, but he will go to trial next month for child pornography charges.
FBI investigators found that the man matches the witnesses’ description of a pedophile who had abused several boys in Paynesville two years before Jacob’s abduction.
Early this year, investigators found the man’s DNA on a piece of clothing from a boy who had been abducted and raped nearly a year before Jacob disappeared. The FBI concluded that Heinrich is a “person of interest” in Wetterling’s case.
Furthermore, his footwear insole imprints along with car tires matched “consistent[ly]” the traces left at Jacob’s kidnapping site. However, nearly 27 years ago, investigators couldn’t rule an exact match.
Police officers discovered other incriminatory evidence in the man’s home. Reportedly, investigators found camouflage clothing, the photo of a boy in underwear, and scanners in the home of Heinrich’s father, where the suspect lived at the time.
The defense attorney declined any request for comment on Saturday.