Family Of Boy Missing Since 1989 Gets Closure


The remains of Jacob Wetterling, who vanished in 1989 when he was 11 years old, have been found.

The man suspected in the 1989 disappearance of an 11-year-old Minnesota boy led police to a site where they found human remains — and the child’s clothes, authorities said.

Danny Heinrich, who is jailed on unrelated child pornography charges, pinpointed the location nearly three decades after Jacob Wetterling vanished,sources told CBS Minnesota.

Jacob’s mom, Patty Wetterling, announced his grisly discovery Saturday and Stearns County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the findings in a field Saturday.

“All I can confirm is that Jacob has been found and our hearts are broken,” she wrote in a text message to Minneapolis’ KARE 11. “I am not responding to any media yet as I have no words.”

It’s been 26 years since Jacob Wetterling was abducted

The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center said in a statement, “We didn’t want Jacob’s story to end this way.”

Heinrich was questioned at the time of Jacob’s disappearance and was finally named a suspect in the case last year. FBI investigators took the 52-year-old out of jail twice last week: During the outings, he told them where they could find Jacob’s body, sources said.

Officers also uncovered clothing that belongs to the missing boy.

Jacob’s disappearance on Oct. 22, 1989, rattled the quiet town of St. Joseph. In the years afterward, Patty Wetterling became a nationally recognized advocate for missing children as she and her husband fought to keep their son’s case in the public eye.

Suspect named in Jacob Wetterling’s disappearance from 1989

Every year on Jacob’s birthday, Feb. 17, his mom makes his favorite meal and bakes him a birthday cake. This year, he would have turned 38.


Patty Wetterling, Jacob’s mom, announced the grisly discovery Saturday.

“Birthdays are supposed to be about parties, hats and noisemakers, cake, ice cream, friends singing and making wishes but not yet. Not this year, again,” Wetterling wrote in a February birthday letter to her missing son. “My birthday wish is for you to come home.”

Jacob was biking home from a convenience store with his brother and their friend after school when a masked man approached them. The mysterious man abducted Jacob at gunpoint — and demanded the other boys run away.

The case baffled police and locals alike, and years passed by with no new information, until last fall when Heinrich was arrested.

Heinrich, 52, was booked on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography of another Stearns County boy. Amid the investigation into that case, police named Heinrich a person of interest in Jacob’s disappearance.


Daniel James Heinrich was named a suspect in the case last fall.

Heinrich, who remains behind bars, will face trial next month on child pornography charges.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton released a statement Saturday, offering support and prayers for peace for the Wetterling family. “I hope they will find solace in knowing that they do not stand alone. Jacob’s story has touched the lives and hearts of Minnesotans for a generation,” the statement said.

“And I thank the law enforcement officials and others who never stopped searching for him.”

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