Real Name: Jacob Erwin Wetterling
Location: St. Joseph, Minnesota
Date: October 22, 1989
Date of Birth: February 17, 1978
Weight: 75 pounds
Marital Status: Single
Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, blue eyes.
Details: On October 22, 1989, eleven-year-old Jacob Wetterling, his brother, and their friend, Aaron Larson, went to a convenience store in their hometown of St. Joseph, Minnesota late in the evening and left the store at 9:15pm on their bicycles. When the three boys were about a quarter of a mile from the Wetterling home, an unidentified man wearing a mask and dark clothing approached them with a gun and ordered the boys to lie down in a ditch. He asked for their ages, and then told Jacob's brother and friend to run away or they will be killed. The man then ordered the boys to run and don't look back. when the boys were to the woods they looked back and the attacker and Jacob were gone. Authorities received two possible tips shortly after the abduction: witnesses reported seeing a strange man glaring at customers at the convenience store where the boys were at. The other lead was about a child molestation that occurred two months after Wetterling vanished. An unidentified man molested a twelve year old boy in Cold Springs, Minnesota, ten miles away from St. Joseph. The boy was walking home from ice skating when he was grabbed by the man who pulled him into his car, molested him, then pushed him out and told him to run away or he would shoot him. The two cases seemed identical to police, but no new leads surfaced and the case remains unsolved.
Suspects: The abductor was described as a Caucasian male that was between 40 and 50 years old, 5'8" tall, husky build, with broad shoulders and a low, raspy voice.
Extra Notes: The case was requested by the Wetterling family to be on Unsolved Mysteries, but it was denied. It is profiled because of its connection to several other disappearances on the show. Jacob's case was also profiled on The Hunt with John Walsh.
Results: Solved. In September of 2004, a man in Warrod, Minnesota, was believed to be Jacob because the man's co-workers noticed that he matched the age progressed photograph of Jacob. However, the man denied this and he refused to do a DNA test. Eventually, detectives were able to get the man's fingerprints, but they did not match. In 2010, a farm where a person of interest lived was searched for the possible remains of Jacob, but nothing was located. Authorities eventually connected more than five different sexual assaults/abductions in nearby Paynesville, Minnesota, that occurred in the mid-1980s, and came to the belief that the same person was involved in all of those cases and in Jacob's case as well. In October 2015, Danny Heinrich was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. He was also considered a suspect in Jacob's disappearance since 1990 since authorities had found similarities between tire tracks and footprints at the crime scene and Heinrich's footprints and his 1982 blue Ford EXP. Recently, DNA has connected Heinrich to at least one of the Paynesville attacks, but the statute of limitations has run out in that case. In September 2016, Heinrich led investigators to Jacob's remains. Forensics revealed had been shot to death. On September 6, 2016, Heinrich confessed to abducting and murdering Jacob. However, as a result of a plea deal, Heinrich will not be charged with Jacob's murder. He has instead pled guilty to one count of possession of child pornography and has been sentenced to twenty years in prison.
- Jacob Wetterling on Wikipedia
- Suspect reveals location of missing boy's body
- Jacob Wetterling on The Hunt