Minnesota’s Biggest Cold Case Solved

Missing since 1989, Jacob Wetterling's remains have been found.

11 year old Jacob Wetterling was abducted in 1989.

The 1989 abduction and disappearance of the 11 year old St. Joseph, Minnesota resident Jacob Wetterling stunned Minnesota.  Now it seems that the Wetterlings will finally have closure:  After 27 years of searching for their son Jacob, media reports are claiming that his remains have been found.  Authorities have not confirmed the reports, however, KARE 11 is reporting that Patty Wetterling sent a text to reporter Carolyn Lowe stating: “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.”

Danny Heinrich, person of interest in the Jacob Wetterling Abduction Case. Photo courtesy of the Sherburne County Jail.
Danny Heinrich, person of interest in the Jacob Wetterling Abduction Case. Photo courtesy of the Sherburne County Jail.

Danny Heinrich, named a “person of interest” in the Wetterling case by authorities, reportedly led authorities to Jacob’s remains.  Heinrich was arrested on child pornography charges last fall.  DNA evidence connected him to a sexual assault of a boy 9 months prior to the disappearance of Jacob.  The events in the two cases were so similar that though the authorities had no evidence linking Heinrich to Jacob’s abduction and Heinrich repeatedly denied any involvement, officials still named him a “person of interest” in the Wetterling abduction.  

In court documents filed June 1, 2016, officials stated: It has long been believed that the Cold Spring and Wetterling abductions were likely to have been committed by the same person…The abductions were committed in the same geographic area, involved similarly aged boys, were committed by a lone male suspect and occurred within months of each other.”


Over the years, in an attempt to find their missing son, the Wetterlings worked hard to keep Jacob in the public eye.  In 1990 they founded “The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center,” listing as the foundation’s mission: “to educate and assist families and communities to address and prevent the exploitation of children, by putting online and in-person safety information in the hands of every man, woman and child.”  

Patty Wetterling
Patty Wetterling

Patty Wetterling has served as the National Chair of Missing and Exploited children since 2012 as well as the State of Minnesota Sexual Violence Program Director from 2007 to 2015.  She also was part of implementing the Amber Alert system in Minnesota, which is used today to provide information about abducted children to the mass public as quickly as possible.  


Wetterling also made two separate runs for Congress (MN-6) in 2004 and 2006, losing both times to the Republicans in the race – Mark Kennedy and Michele Bachmann.


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Andrea Mayer-Bruestle

Andrea Mayer-Bruestle is a former writer for Alpha News.