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Update: September 3, 2016 Breaking News

Jacob Wetterling’s Remains Found in Central Minnesota

“This area is dedicated to our friend Jacob and other missing children”Paddy_JacobGarden-1_10-09-2008
Inscribed stone slab in Jacob’s Garden at North Junior High School, St. Cloud, taken Oct. 9, 2008. (Photo: Aubrey Immelman)



PI’s 1990 Notes Mention Heinrich

Video: History of the Wetterling abduction investigation

By David Unze
St. Cloud Times
November 22, 2015


Private investigator Larry Peart had a three-word response to the news that Danny Heinrich had been named a person of interest in the abduction of Jacob Wetterling.

“Well, that’s interesting,” Peart said last week, a slight chuckle in his voice.

Peart’s reaction is filtered through the hundreds of hours he spent interviewing suspects and chasing leads related to the case, much of it done with help from retired case investigators who worked for him periodically.

He was careful to not offer an opinion about who he thinks abducted Wetterling in October 1989. And he was even more careful to not discuss the notes he took during a 1990 jailhouse interview of a convicted sex offender who named Danny Heinrich as a person of interest in the abduction of the 11-year-old St. Joseph boy. …

Peart was the lead investigator for the Eighth Judicial District’s public defender’s office from 1987-1995. That caused him to end up in the jail cell of Duane Allen Hart.

Hart pleaded guilty in 1990 to six counts of criminal sexual conduct in Stearns and Kandiyohi counties. He was accused of repeatedly sexually abusing four boys. Hart was committed indefinitely to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, where he remains today.

Peart estimates he spent 60 hours interviewing Hart. The 25 pages of notes from those conversations show Heinrich’s name was mentioned multiple times. Although the notes contain names of Hart’s victims and other possible child abuse victims and suspects, Heinrich’s name stands out. His name is on the first page of the document and is circled with a star next to it, the only name in the notes to be circled. And other portions of the notes show Peart was talking to Hart about the Wetterling case.

Image added (not part of St. Cloud Times report)

Peart said he shared his information with law enforcement but wasn’t sure what was done with it. Part of that information included what Peart termed a confession linking two sex offenders to the abduction. Peart said investigators discounted the information about the sex offenders, who he said weren’t thoroughly investigated at the time and only recently were talked to by Wetterling case investigators. …

Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner declined to comment about Peart’s notes or other suspects other than to say that investigators had Peart’s notes long ago and they “don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.”

Peart’s notes indicate that Hart described Heinrich as having a “deep, raspy voice when excited or angry.”

The “Paynesville Assault Cluster,” as the incidents have been called in court documents, involved eight assaults and seven child victims, all within a mile of where Heinrich lived at the time: the Plaza Hotel at 121 Washburne Ave.

Those assaults typically involved the assailant attacking kids in public places while they walked or biked outside. The attacker would typically knock the child off his bike and grope him over or under his clothing. In some of the cases, the suspect would ask the child his age and threaten to shoot him.

Those assaults happened between August 1986 and late fall of 1988. …

Paynesville Assault Cluster

The following information is gleaned from the federal criminal complaint charging Danny Heinrich and the search warrant used to search his Annandale house this summer.

Incidents 1 and 2: The first two Paynesville incidents happened near Papa’s Pizza, 108 Hoffman St. In the first incident, a boy was pushed off of his bicycle and hit in the face. The suspect ran without saying anything. In the second incident, a boy was pushed to the ground while walking and groped. The suspect ran when a second boy approached.

Incident 3: On Nov. 30, 1986, the attacker came out of the bushes in the alley near 603 Augusta Ave., put his hand over a boy’s mouth and dragged him into some trees. The attacker had a “low, static-filled” voice and smelled of cigarette smoke. He groped the boy over and under his clothes, removed the boy’s stocking cap and used a jagged-edged knife to cut off some of the boy’s hair. The suspect asked the boy his name and age. He told the boy to keep laying down after the attack for five minutes or “I’ll blow your head off.” The attacker kept the boy’s stocking cap and hair.

Incidents 4 and 5: One victim was attacked twice, first on Valentine’s Day 1987 in the stairwell of an apartment building at 122 James St. W. The attacker groped the boy over and under his clothing and spoke in a “deep low whisper.” The suspect asked the boy what grade he was in, told him not to move or he would be killed and took the boy’s wallet before leaving.

The second time that boy was attacked was May 17, 1987, near Main and Maple streets. The boy was grabbed off of his bicycle and groped. The attacker left behind a baseball cap. Testing of that cap showed that it contained a DNA mixture from three or more people and that 80.5 percent of the general population could be excluded as being a contributor. Heinrich could not be excluded.

Incident 6: On Sept. 20, 1987, two boys were approached near 111 Lyndall Ave. by a man described as chubby and being 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall, similar to the description of the attacker in the previous incidents. The man had either painted his face or was wearing a mask. The boys screamed and ran, and the man didn’t speak to or assault the boys. The boys had been at Papa’s Pizza earlier in the evening, as had many of the other victims.

Incident 7: The seventh incident was in late summer 1988 and happened in the woods near 200 Railroad Ave. W. A group of kids was camping in the woods, and two left the camp to get something to drink. A man with a raspy voice and wearing pantyhose over his head, camouflage pants and an army-type jacket with black boots and black gloves attacked one of the boys. He held a knife to the boy’s throat and told him to shut up or he would be killed. The boy fought back and escaped without being groped or harmed.

Incident 8: In late fall 1988 in the area of 512 Minnesota St. W, a boy riding a bicycle and delivering newspapers was attacked by a short, husky man possibly wearing a ski mask, dark hat and black shirt, pants and gloves. The attacker ran out from a line of trees in the yard, knocked the boy off of his bicycle and fled without doing anything else.

Cold Spring attack: On Jan. 13, 1989, a 12-year-old boy was walking home from the Side Cafe in Cold Spring, about three blocks from his home, when a man driving a car stopped and asked “whether he knew where Kraemer lived.” The driver grabbed the boy and forced him into the backseat of a car that was described as a dark, four-door, automatic transmission vehicle with child safety locks on the back doors and a luggage rack on the trunk. The attacker spoke in a deep, raspy voice. The boy noticed that there was a walkie-talkie inside the vehicle that had gray duct tape on it. The attacker drove the boy for 10-15 minutes before stopping and sexually assaulting him. The attacker told the boy that if police got a lead on who he was, the man would find the boy after school and shoot him. He drove the boy back toward Cold Spring and let him go, telling him to run and not look back or he would shoot him. Four days later, the boy was shown a photo lineup of six men with similar builds and characteristics as the attacker. The victim picked Heinrich and another man as his possible attacker. No charges were filed in that attack.

Wetterling abduction: 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted Oct. 22, 1989, near St. Joseph.

Jacob, his brother Trevor and friend Aaron Larson were biking home from the convenience store when a man approached them with a gun and ordered them into the ditch. The man asked the boys their ages, groped Larson over his clothing and told Trevor Wetterling and Larson to run and not look back or he would shoot them.

The boys described the attacker as 5 foot 9 to 5 foot 10 inches tall, weighing about 180 pounds and having a low, raspy voice as if he had a cold. He was wearing a dark mask and clothing and was carrying a silver handgun.

FBI agents interviewed Heinrich on Dec. 16, 1989, about Wetterling, and he told them he couldn’t recall where he was on Jan. 13, 1989, or on Oct. 22, 1989. Investigators learned Heinrich had been in the National Guard, but Heinrich denied wearing camouflage when he was off duty. He denied any involvement in the abduction of the Cold Spring boy or Wetterling.

On Jan. 8, 1990, the Paynesville police chief told Wetterling investigators that he believed Heinrich could be a suspect in the Paynesville attacks.

Four days later, Heinrich was interviewed again and gave investigators his shoes and the rear tires from the blue Ford EXP he had purchased in 1989. He also gave investigators body hair samples.

Investigators on Jan. 24, 1990, searched the residence of Heinrich’s father. Heinrich had moved in November 1989 from his Paynesville residence to live with his father at 16021 Stearns County Road 124 [link added]. …

Read the full report and comments at the St. Cloud Times


Related report

The ‘Other Person of Interest’ in the Jacob Wetterling Case

By Tom Lyden
November 12, 2015

One of the original persons of interest in the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling has been pointing the finger of suspicion at Danny Heinrich since 1990. …

Robert Dudley knew of Heinrich, but left him out of  “It Can’t Happen Here,” his book published earlier this year on the Wetterling case. …

Dudley believes the break in the case may have been handwritten notes he turned over to the FBI a few months ago.  They came from a prison interview conducted 25 years ago with Duane Allen Hart who is a convicted pedophile. The notes were taken by a private detective working for Hart’s defense attorney. …

Full report and video at Fox 9


11/26/2015 Update

An In-Depth Look into Heinrich’s Life Before, After Wetterling Abduction

By Liz Collin
CBS Minnesota — WCCO
November 25, 2015


Unemployment, a move and an unsolved arson. WCCO is taking a closer look at what was happening in the life of Danny Heinrich in the days before, and after, Jacob Wetterling went missing. …

Every year of Heinrich’s life is being scrutinized.

Documents suggest one year in particular was filled with turmoil. That year was 1989. A then 26-year-old Heinrich was having financial trouble.

In March of 1989 his Mercury Topez was repossessed. Investigators believe he used that car to sexually assault Jared Scheirl in Cold Spring.

Heinrich admitted to his attorney in a burglary case years prior he’d been having problems dealing with his parent’s divorce. His mother remarried in July of 1989.

Heinrich also stopped working at Fingerhut in St. Cloud on October 8 of that year. …

Robert Dudley knows the time period well. He published a book about Wetterling’s abduction [link added] sorting through 25 years of promising leads and dead ends. …

In his research Dudley discovered in July of ‘89, three months before Wetterling was kidnapped, a 9-year-old St. Joseph boy told police he ran from a man driving a light tan van who asked him to get inside.

Authorities released a sketch of that man a week after Wetterling went missing.

If it is Heinrich, it’s the only sketch of him with glasses which he is usually pictured wearing.

Some parents called to say their kids saw that same man driving around St. Joseph that summer snapping pictures.

While it’s unknown if Heinrich had access to a van, WCCO found more recent records show Heinrich registered eight cars in the past 11 years.

Perhaps one of the most telling pieces of all is the suspect profile the FBI released just three days after Wetterling’s kidnapping: a white man, 25 to 35 years old, employed in a low-skilled job.

Investigators also believed he recently had a high-stress event in his life that triggered the high-risk way he kidnapped Wetterling. They also thought the threat of a gun indicated he may have tried a similar event before and failed.

Around the same time, the FBI described the suspect as commanding like a military man.

Heinrich served as a specialist in the National Guard. A spokesperson said he did not take part in any search for Wetterling in St. Joseph. …

Sources told WCCO just this year investigators revisited Heinrich’s connection to an early morning arson on November 12, 1989 at a home he was known to visit. It’s the same date documents said Heinrich started a new job.

Two weeks later, Heinrich moved from his downtown Paynesville apartment, where he’d lived for years, into his father’s basement two miles away.

Potential victims of Heinrich have been told by investigators that Heinrich lost 60 pounds before Wetterling’s kidnapping and then put 60 pounds back on in the few months that followed.  Another indication, experts said, that he may have been trying to avoid detection.

Patty and Jerry Wetterling will host a community meeting on Monday night in Paynesville.  They’re calling it a night of healing and sharing.

Investigators are expected to talk about what kind of tips they’re still looking for in this case to help narrow the focus. It begins at 7 p.m. at Paynesville High School.

Read full report and watch video at WCCO

Related: Timeline in the Jacob Wetterling abduction case

Related: A look at Danny Heinrich’s criminal past


1/2/2016 Update

Behind the Person of Interest in the Jacob Wetterling Investigation

By Pam Louwagie and Jenna Ross

January 2, 2016


Now indicted on 25 child pornography charges in U.S. District Court, Heinrich has not been charged in Wetterling’s abduction, for which he has long denied involvement. …

A trial on the federal charges is set for March in Fergus Falls, according to a schedule filed in court this week. As Heinrich waits in Sherburne County jail, interviews with neighbors and classmates, plus hundreds of pages of public documents obtained through data requests, reveal a history of lesser offenses committed by a wayward young man. …

Read full report at the Star Tribune

Related: Jacob Wetterling case: 1989-2016


Related reports on this site

“In the Dark” Podcast — How Law Enforcement Mishandled the Jacob Wetterling Investigation (Sept. 13, 2016)

Close look at quality of investigation reveals trail of failures

Danny Heinrich Confesses to Jacob Wetterling Kidnapping, Assault, and Murder (Sept 6, 2016)

Danny Heinrich in federal court confessing to the abduction and murder of Jacob Wetterling. (Sketch: Nancy Muellner / KARE 11)

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


New Book on Jacob Wetterling Abduction, Search, and Suspects (April 17, 2015)


Refer Joshua Guimond Case to FBI (Nov. 10, 2010)

Click on image for larger view

6 Responses to “Danny Heinrich Questioned in Wetterling Abduction — Investigator’s 1990 Case Notes”
  1. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    Cross-posted from St. Cloud Times reader comments at »

    The problem is that there is no incentive for Danny Heinrich to confess to Jacob’s kidnapping, because it would guarantee him a sentence of life in prison.

    Heinrich faces possibly decades in prison on the child pornography charges, so the most viable strategy to secure a confession might be a plea deal to reduce his sentence.

    It would yield the benefit of finding Jacob, at the cost of Heinrich possibly walking free in his old age.

  2. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Wetterling “Person of Interest” Danny Heinrich in Federal Court Says:

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

  3. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » New Book on Jacob Wetterling Abduction, Search, and Suspects Says:

    […] The cost of the 2nd edition of It Can’t Happen Here, Answers in the Sand, will be $17.95 (excluding shipping) at, with the Kindle version selling for $6.95. […]

  4. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Daniel Heinrich Search Warrant in Jacob Wetterling Kidnapping Says:

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

  5. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Jacob Wetterling Case Featured on CNN’s ‘Hunt With John Walsh’ Says:

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

  6. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Breaking News — Danny Heinrich Plea Hearing in Federal Court — Jacob Wetterling Kidnapping and Murder — Live Coverage Says:

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

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