Investigation into the abduction of boy (11) ends after 27 years

Investigation into the abduction of boy (11) ends after 27 years

The long trail of investigation into the abduction of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling in Minnesota has ended almost 27 years after he went missing.

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office confirmed last night that Wetterling's remains have been found in central Minnesota. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner and a forensic dentist identified Wetterling's remains earlier in the day.

Investigators and prosecutors are "reviewing and evaluating new evidence" in the investigation and more detailed information is expected to be provided early next week, according to the sheriff's office.

A “person of interest” in the case cooperated in the investigation, according to reports that first came from KSTP-TV, Minneapolis.

Jacob's mother, Patty Wetterling, told KARE-TV, Minneapolis, Saturday morning that her son's remains have been found. “All I can confirm is that Jacob has been found and our hearts are broken. I am not responding to any media yet as I have no words.”

Jacob was kidnapped shortly after 9 p.m. on the night of Oct. 22, 1989, after he and his brother, Trevor, 10, and best friend, Aaron Larson, 11, rode their bikes to a Tom Thumb store not far from the family’s rural home in St. Joseph to rent a video.

As they headed home, a masked man with a gun appeared on the remote dirt road leading to the Wetterling house, told the boys to lie face down in a nearby ditch and asked each his age. He then ordered Trevor and Aaron to run to the woods and not look back. When the boys did, Jacob and the masked man were gone.

No one has ever been charged in the case.

In a message to the St. Cloud Times, Patty Wetterling said that she and her family "are heartsick" and referred media to a statement posted to the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center website.

That statement said in part: “We are in deep grief. We didn't want Jacob's story to end this way. ... The Wetterlings had a choice to walk into bitterness and anger or to walk into a light of what could be, a light of hope. Their choice changed the world. ... Our hearts are heavy, but we are being held up by all of the people who have been a part of making Jacob's Hope a light that will never be extinguished. ... Jacob, you are loved.”

The “person of interest” in the case, Danny Heinrich, has been in federal custody since late October, after authorities arrested him on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography. Some of the material featured children under the age of 12.