Missing 11-Year-Old Jacob Wetterling’s Remains Found 27 Years After His Abduction [Video]

In a tragic turn of events, the remains of missing Minnesota 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling have finally been found, 27 years after he was abducted at gunpoint along a rural road. The abduction of Jacob Wetterling led to the creation of “Jacob’s Law,” which was recently upgraded to “Megan’s Law.” While it wasn’t the outcome that the family of missing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was hoping for (his mother always held out hope he would be found alive), authorities and the local community hope that the Saturday discovery will bring closure to Jacob’s loved ones.

The tragic story of missing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling began in 1989, reports NBC News. That was when the young boy, his brother, and a group of their friends were accosted by a masked, armed man while riding bikes west of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. Reportedly, the man snatched Jacob and let the rest of the kids go.

A manhunt that spanned nearly three decades would ensure almost immediately afterward, led by his mother Patty Wetterling, who has been her missing son’s staunchest advocate since his abduction. In fact, in her grief over the tragic kidnapping of 11-year-old Jacob, his mother fought her way to the U.S. Congress and spearheaded the passing of Jacob’s Law in 1994. That law was the foundation of state sex offender registries in the United States.

According to law enforcement, they finally discovered the remains of missing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling. Reportedly, they were led to the location of the now-skeletal remains by the only person of interest that they’ve ever had in the case, 53-year-old Danny Heinrich, who was arrested last year.

Reportedly, investigators found evidence including DNA and child porn that tied the suspect in the case of missing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling to the case of another boy that was abducted and sexually assaulted in the same area that Wetterling disappeared. Despite the evidence of his guilt, however, prosecutors were never able to charge Danny Heinrich due to statute of limitations issues.

Reports indicate that the person of interest in the case of missing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling finally came clean and told investigators where to find the remains of the long-missing child. Initially, the discovery of Jacob’s resting place was announced by his distraught and heartbroken mother; later in the afternoon, the discovery was confirmed by the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office. According to authorities, Jacob Wetterling was positively identified by a forensic scientist and through his dental records.

Police are not publicly divulging where his remains were found.

Jacob Wetterling’s case has been a very high-profile child abduction case in Minnesota and the United States for nearly three decades, and the governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, issued a statement to the public and family upon the news that the missing 11-year-old’s remains had finally been found.

“For nearly 27 years, Minnesotans have held the Wetterling family in their thoughts and prayers, as they never gave up hope and never stopped searching for their beloved Jacob. Today, we continue to offer our love and support, as the Wetterling family finally brings their son home to rest.”

Patty Wetterling, the mother of missing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling, issued a statement on behalf of the family.

“We are in deep grief. We didn’t want Jacob’s story to end this way,” the family said. “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 local community has rallied in support of the family of missing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling. In a show of solidarity, the people who left their lights on for years following the abduction of the little boy are turning them back on to light his way home to be put to rest properly.

So far, police haven’t announced what, if any, charges may be filed in the case of Jacob Wetterling now that his remains have been found. The community is presuming that 53-year-old Danny Heinrich will likely end up facing the music for what happened 27 year ago, and his family is hopeful that there will finally be some kind of justice coming for the formerly missing 11-year-old, Jacob Wetterling.

[Image via Stearns County Sheriff’s Office/Wetterling Family]