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Jacob Wetterling

Real Name: Jacob Erwin Wetterling
Nicknames: Jake
Location: St. Joseph, Minnesota
Date: October 22, 1989

Bio[]

Occupation: Student
Date of Birth: February 17, 1978
Height: 5'0"
Weight: 75 pounds
Marital Status: Single
Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, blue eyes.

Case[]

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 at 9:15pm on their bicycles. When they 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 them to lie down in a ditch. He asked for their ages, and then told Jacob's brother and Aaron to run away or they would be killed. He then ordered them to run and not look back. When they got 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 the boys were at. The other lead was about a child molestation that occurred two months after Jacob vanished. An unidentified man molested a twelve-year-old boy in Cold Springs, ten miles from St. Joseph. He was walking home from ice skating when he was grabbed by the man who pulled him into his car, molested him, pushed him out, and told him to run away or he would shoot him. Both 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: This case was requested by Jacob's family to be on the show, but it was denied. It is profiled because of its connection to several other disappearances on the show. It was also profiled on America's Most Wanted, Missing: Reward, and The Hunt with John Walsh.

Wetterling-suspect Danny-Heinrich.jpg

Results: Solved. In September 2004, a man in Warrod, Minnesota, was believed to be Jacob because his coworkers noticed that he matched the age progressed photograph of him. However, he denied this and he refused to do a DNA test. Eventually, detectives were able to get the his fingerprints, but they did not match. In 2010, a farm where a person of interest lived was searched for Jacob's possible remains, but nothing was located. Authorities eventually connected more than five different sexual assaults/abductions in nearby Paynesville, that occurred in the mid-1980s, and came to the belief that the same person was involved in all of those cases and Jacob's 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 his footprints and his 1982 blue Ford EXP. Recently, DNA has connected him to at least one of the Paynesville attacks, but the statute of limitations has run out in that case. In September 2016, he led investigators to Jacob's remains. Forensics revealed that he had been shot to death. On September 6, 2016, Heinrich confessed to abducting and murdering him. However, as a result of a plea deal, he will not be charged with his murder. He has instead pled guilty to one count of possession of child pornography and has been sentenced to twenty years in prison.
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