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September 9, 2016 Update – Wetterling Search Warrants Unsealed

View the search warrant for the Rassier farm, executed June 28, 2010.


Heinrich Confesses to Wetterling’s Death

Wetterling_Lieberg-Sanner-Kendall_9-6-2016
Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall speaking during a press conference in federal court on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Looking on are Stearns County prosecutor Michael Lieberg (far left) and Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner (next to Kendall). (Photo: Kimm Anderson / St. Cloud Times)

By David Unze and Kirsti Marohn
St. Cloud Times
September 6, 2016

Excerpts

For nearly 27 years, Patty Wetterling has asked a simple question to a world that has watched in pain and, until recently, in vain:

“Where’s Jacob?”

That question was answered late last week with the discovery of Jacob’s remains at a Stearns County farm near Paynesville.

On Tuesday, Danny Heinrich admitted in federal court how he kidnapped, sexually assaulted and killed Jacob with two gunshots. Heinrich didn’t answer the question of why.

But in wrenching detail and with a flat, matter-of-fact tone, he told a federal judge about the October night in 1989 when he kidnapped 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling at gunpoint, launching one of the most heart-rending mysteries in Minnesota history.

“Finally we know. We know what the Wetterling family and all of Minnesota have longed to know since that awful night in 1989. We know the truth. Danny Heinrich is no longer a person of interest,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. “He is the confessed murderer of Jacob Wetterling.”

Heinrich, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography. As part of the plea agreement, he recounted what happened to Jacob after he was taken at gunpoint along a rural St. Joseph road by a masked man who let his brother and his best friend go.

In exchange, Heinrich is expected to receive a 20-year federal prison sentence that allows him the chance to get out of prison if he lives long enough. That plea agreement had the blessing of the Wetterling family.

Heinrich will not be tried in Jacob Wetterling’s death.

Heinrich told a packed courtroom that he handcuffed Jacob’s arms behind his back after telling his brother, Trevor, and friend Aaron Larson to run and not look back or he would shoot. A hushed courtroom heard Heinrich recount what a terrified Jacob said next.

“What did I do wrong?” he asked Heinrich.

Heinrich described how he saw the boys bike past him while he was driving on the road leading to the Wetterling residence. The kids were going to rent a video, and Heinrich pulled around in a driveway near the abduction site and waited.

When the boys biked past on their way home, Heinrich put on a mask, grabbed a .38-caliber handgun and ordered the boys into the ditch. One of the boys offered up the video they had rented, apparently thinking that’s why Heinrich was accosting them. …

He asked each boy his name and age, then let two of the boys go.

He cuffed Jacob and put him in the front passenger seat of his car, driving toward his hometown of Paynesville. With a police scanner in the car, Heinrich could hear the response of law enforcement rushing to the abduction site.

He took Jacob to a rural area near a gravel pit and forced the boy to undress, then sexually assaulted him. After 20-30 minutes, Jacob told Heinrich he was cold. Heinrich let Jacob get dressed.

“Are you taking me home?” Heinrich said Jacob asked him.

“I can’t take you all the way home,” Heinrich said, noting the massive police presence at the abduction site.

“He started to cry,” Heinrich told the court.

“I said ‘Don’t cry,’” Heinrich said.

Then, a police car drove by, with no lights or sirens, and Heinrich panicked.

He loaded the handgun and told Jacob to look the other way because Heinrich needed to urinate, Heinrich told the court.

“I, uh, I uh, raised the revolver to his head” and pulled the trigger, Heinrich said. The weapon didn’t fire and Heinrich fired again. Jacob was still standing when Heinrich pulled the trigger a third time, shooting Jacob again.

“I left him and went home,” Heinrich said.

A couple hours later he returned to the site with a shovel, but realized he needed more than that to dig a big enough grave. He went to a nearby construction company, commandeered a Bobcat and dug a grave. After filling it in with dirt, he tried to camouflage it with grass and brush.

As he walked home, he took Jacob’s shoes and threw them into a ravine.

About a year later, he returned to the site at night and saw the remains and the red jacket that Jacob had been wearing protruding from the ground. He gathered up the remains and clothing and moved Jacob’s remains to a site on a nearby farm. …

Heinrich also on Tuesday admitted that he had kidnapped and sexually assaulted Jared Scheierl nine months before the Wetterling abduction. In recounting that night, Heinrich said he was “driving around Cold Spring, looking for a child” when he spotted Scheierl on a dark street.

After sexually assaulting Scheierl, Heinrich let him go, telling him to run and not look back or he’d shoot him.

Heinrich kept the boy’s underwear and pants.

“A souvenir I guess,” Heinrich said in court Tuesday. …

Heinrich took investigators to a spot where he said he buried Jacob. Investigators found a red St. Cloud hockey jacket consistent with the one Jacob was wearing when he was abducted.

But investigators didn’t find the additional evidence they needed and interviewed Heinrich again Sept. 1. That interview lasted late into the evening, and led to a second excavation that revealed bones, teeth and a shirt with the name Wetterling on it, Luger said. …

Heinrich was arrested, but not charged, years ago for the Scheierl abduction and sexual assault that happened nine months before the Wetterling kidnapping. …

As part of his plea, Heinrich acknowledged that he could be subject to a civil commitment after he serves his criminal sentence. …

Read the full story and view photo gallery at the St. Cloud Times

 


 

EARLIER

Breaking News — Danny Heinrich Plea Hearing in Federal Court — Jacob Wetterling Kidnapping and Murder — Live Coverage

Live updates of Danny Heinrich plea hearing in federal court

Danny Heinrich admits to kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and killing Jacob Wetterling by shooting him to death with a Smith & Wesson .38 Special snub nose revolver.


Press conference detailing Danny Heinrich’s confession in the Wetterling abduction case (Photo: Kimm Anderson / St. Cloud Times)

 


 

UPDATE

Annandale Home of Jacob Wetterling’s Killer Demolished

Crowd Watches as Wetterling Killer’s House Is Destroyed


Patty Wetterling watches as Danny Heinrich’s home is torn down. (Photo: A.J. Lagoe / KARE)

KARE 11
December 23, 2016

Excerpt

ANNANDALE, Minn. — A somber crowd watched from the street as demolition crews tore down the house that’s caused so much pain in their quiet Annandale neighborhood.

The small, white house on the corner, which belonged to Jacob Wetterling’s confessed killer Danny Heinrich, was destroyed Friday morning, thanks to the generosity of volunteers.

A Woodbury real estate developer announced earlier this month he would donate the time and resources to bring the house down.

Tim Thone said he wanted to rewrite the ending to a story he’s followed for the last 27 years.

Patty Wetterling was among the crowd Friday, watching as the home was knocked to the ground. She said she is so grateful this day has come.

“It’s like taking an eraser and getting rid of a lot of bad so that we can move forward,” she said. …

Read the full report at the KARE-11

 


 

Related reports on this site

Jacob Wetterling’s Remains Found in Central Minnesota (Sept. 3, 2016)

The remains of Jacob Wetterling were recovered in this tree line area of a cow pasture off Stearns County Road 85 northeast of Paynesville. (Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii / Star Tribune)
The remains of Jacob Wetterling were recovered in this tree line area of a cow pasture off Stearns County Road 85 northeast of Paynesville. (Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii / Star Tribune)

Wetterling “Person of Interest” Danny Heinrich in Federal Court
(Feb. 22, 2016)


Sketch: KSTP / Cedric Hohnstadt

Danny James Heinrich Questioned in Wetterling Abduction — Investigator’s 1990 Case Notes (Nov. 23, 2015)

Wetterling_Larry-Peart_case-notes
One of the original persons of interest in the 1989 disappearance of Jacob Wetterling has been pointing the finger of suspicion at Danny Heinrich since 1990.

Danny Heinrich Arrested: Wetterling Press Conference
(Nov. 4, 2015)

Wetterling-presser_11-3-2015
Dennis Dalman / The Newsleader

Daniel Heinrich Search Warrant in Jacob Wetterling Kidnapping
(Oct. 30, 2015)

Daniel James Heinrich
Danny James Heinrich

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9 Responses to “Danny Heinrich Confesses to Jacob Wetterling Kidnapping, Assault, and Murder”
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