The remains of Jacob Wetterling, a Minnesota boy kidnapped in 1989, have been found and positively identified according to his mother, KARE (Minneapolis) is reporting.
Officially, authorities have not publicly confirmed that the remains belong to Wetterling, as of this writing, but his mother, Patty Wetterling, told local media that the human remains found last week in Minnesota belong to Jacob.
“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.”
— WCCO Breaking News (@WCCOBreaking) September 3, 2016
Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped from his hometown of St. Joseph, Minnesota on October 22, 1989, and was never heard from again. To this day, this crime has not been solved, although police have identified a “person of interest” in the case, who is currently in jail on unrelated charges.
Jacob, 11-years-old at the time, and his younger brother Trevor, then 10, and a friend were riding their bikes home from a convenience store where they had gone to rent a video, according to the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center. A masked gunman approached the boys and ordered Trevor to run into some nearby woods and not look back, or else he’d be shot. He then made the remaining boys take off their masks and reveal their ages; he then abducted Jacob and told the other boy to run off else he’d be shot, too.
Jacob was never heard from again.
— WCCO – CBS Minnesota (@WCCO) September 3, 2016
A break in the case came last week, after almost 30 years, when a man named Danny Heinrich provided information to police that led them to the remains in an undisclosed location in central Minnesota, according to KTSP (St. Paul).
Back in 1990, authorities took an interest in Heinrich and took a DNA sample from him, but nothing ever came of it. However, back in 2015 Heinrich’s DNA sample was connected to the abduction of another boy in 1989 – that of a Cold Spring, Minnesota boy who had been abducted in a similar way to Wetterling’s abduction, then sexually assaulted and later released. Heinrich couldn’t be charged with any crimes in the Cold Spring case because the statute of limitations had expired, but authorities have since been trying to connect him to Wetterling’s case ever since.
— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) June 2, 2016
While investigating Heinrich in connection with the Cold Springs case, authorities found books of child pornography, and he has been jailed on child pornography charges since then. While jailed, Heinrich agreed to cooperate with authorities and provide them with information that led them to the remains believed to be Wetterling’s.
In a statement, the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center mourned the ending to Jacob’s story.
“We are in deep grief. We didn’t want Jacob’s story to end this way… 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. It shines on in a different way. We are, and we will continue to be, Jacob’s Hope. Jacob, you are loved.”
At this point, it bears noting that Jacob Wetterling’s story is far from over; as of this writing, authorities have yet to officially confirm that the remains found last week are Jacob’s, Heinrich has not been charged with any crimes in the case, let alone convicted.