Friday, June 7, 2019

Jacob Wetterling: Missing Since October 22, 1989 **SOLVED**

11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was riding bicycles with his brother and a friend in St. Joseph, Minnesota on October 22, 1989 when they were approached by an unknown man with a gun. The man let the other boys go, but grabbed Jacob and walked away with him. Jacob has never been heard from again.  

The man who took Jacob may have been responsible for an assault on a child just ten months prior in the nearby town of Cold Spring, Minnesota.
As Jared was giving the directions the man stepped out of the vehicle and grabbed his shoulders from behind, and forced him down into the backseat of the car (the man also forced Jared to pull his winter cap down over his eyes). Although Jared did not see a gun, the man claimed that he had one and he stated that he “wasn't afraid to use it”.Jared’s story begins on a winter night in Cold Spring, Minnesota.

It was Friday, January 13, 1989 (9:45 p.m) when twelve year old Jared began walking the four blocks back to his home from the hockey rink where he had been skating with two of his friends when a man pulled up alongside him on the road and asked for directions.

The man drove Jared about 5 miles to an area north of Richmond where he molested him for 3 hours. (Jared was later able to lead authorities to the location where he was sexually assaulted when he recognized a distinctive light at a nearby farm. “Where you see the silo there, there was a distinguished light I remember from that night while I was looking out the window,” Jared recalled. ) After the assault, the man took Jared’s blue jeans and his underwear and left him to put his snow pants on over the naked lower half of his body.

While driving back to town, the man kept questioning Jared about whether or not the boy could identify him. Once they were back near town, the man pulled Jared from the back seat and told him to run and not look back or he threatened to shoot. Police were at Jared’s home within minutes after his return and he was taken to a local hospital for tests taken throughout the night.Jared has been called upon frequently since his abduction to assist police with possible connections to the Wetterling abduction. In fact, investigators confirm that one of the key sketches released in the search for Wetterling’s abductor was actually put together by Jared.

Ten Months Later/October 22, 1989
More important perhaps was that Jerry knew October 22, 1989 had been a tough one for Jake. His son had skated poorly at hockey tryouts for his youth league in nearby St. Cloud. Later, Jerry Wetterling would recall a moment from that day that could lend support to the stalker theory. That afternoon (after having spent that morning with Jacob fishing at Big Fish Lake), Jerry and his two sons were skating at the hockey tryout. There were about 20 spectators. Suddenly, Jacob slipped out of sight. “It was very strange but very real,” Jerry remembered. “I had this sense of danger for Jacob. I can almost point to the spot on the ice where it happened to this day.” Jerry found Jacob and the ominous feeling soon passed, but in retrospect, he said, “It prompted me to wonder if possibly the abductor had been in the ice arena at that time, in a sense looking at Jacob or stalking him.” (another chilling version of the event: Suddenly Jerry was walloped by something very strange. “I felt a tremendous surge of fear and danger,” he recalls. “It was all aimed at Jacob. I stopped and looked at the people in the stands and at the kids on the ice. I was frantic until I spotted Jacob and knew he was okay. It was an overpowering moment.”Nothing like this has happened to Jerry before or since. In the absence of other clues, the Wetterlings will forever wonder if the abductor was at the ice rink, spotted Jacob, took a liking to him and followed them home.) Renting a comedy might be just the thing to lift Jacob’s spirits. Jerry decided to allow Jacob and Trevor to ride to the Tom Thumb. It was the first time the two boys had permission to ride after sundown.

Dispatcher: “I want you to give me anything you, you can recall about this male party that approached you guys, okay?”

“When he walked in the door, I knew something was wrong just by the way he looked – in shock, pale and stuttering,” she remembers. “He kept trying to say ‘a guy, a guy,’ and he kept saying that. And he finally got that out and I said, ‘Jared, we need to talk.

Somebody will commit a crime toward a child, then have three months of feeling empty, and then three months of starting to look, and he’ll do it again in nine months…

St Joseph, Minnesota:

All Jacob Wetterling wanted to do was rent a video. At age 11 he was savvy enough to know that if mom said no, dad just might say yes.

Jacob’s parents, Jerry and Patty, had left their house in St. Joseph, Minn. to attend a dinner party in nearby Clearwater Minnesota . Jacob stayed behind to watch over his two younger siblings, Trevor, 10, and Carmen, 8. Jacob’s friend, Aaron Larson, age 11, joined the group.

It was a warm and overcast Sunday night in St. Joseph, population 2,200. Trevor Wetterling was the first to telephone about getting permission to go rent a video from the Tom Thumb convenience store. Trevor figured he had a chance of getting mom’s okay. The store was only a ten-minute bike ride away, and besides, it wasn’t even a school night because of a teachers’ conference the next day. Trevor’s pitch failed. Patty Wetterling was worried about drivers not being able to see the boys on the dark stretch of country road.

Now it was Jacob’s turn. He called his dad. The boys had revised their plan. Trevor would carry a flashlight, Aaron would wear a white sweatshirt and Jacob would wear his father’s orange reflective jogging vest. And a 14-year-old neighbor would babysit for Carmen. The plan seemed sound to Jerry.

About halfway through their mile-long trip, Aaron heard a rustle in the tall grass by the road: ”A little shiver went through me,” which he revealed in an interview 20 years after the abduction. “I didn’t know if it was a person or an animal, but I kind of sped up. I don’t know if Trevor or Jacob even heard it. … It was just a strange noise that shouldn’t be there.” Not wanting the others to know he was scared, he said nothing.

The boys arrived at the Tom Thumb store sometime around 9:00 p.m. (the unusual man who was glaring at customers at a convenience store in Avon earlier that day was also at the Tom Thumb glaring at customers. The man was last seen at 9:00 p.m. standing outside the store next to an ice machine). For 10 or 15 minutes, the boys studied the videos, renting “Naked Gun” because their first choice, “Major League,” was checked out. After buying some candy, the boys headed home. At about 9:15 p.m. Jacob, Trevor and Aaron were making their way back from the store, videotape in hand. The older boys were on bikes; Trevor was on a push scooter. As they approached a particularly dark stretch of the road, where a long gravel driveway led to a farm (and close to the spot where Aaron had heard the strange noise) suddenly the flashlight held by Trevor picked up a figure moving from the driveway into the road in front of them.

Uncertain, the boys slowed. “Stop!“ ordered a burly man with a harsh, raspy voice who now stood before them pointing a pistol. “Turn off that flashlight. I have a gun.” The boys saw that his face was covered by black nylon stockings. (“The first thing I remember was the flash of the gun, and a guy saying, ‘Stop, I have a gun,’” Aaron recalled. “I caught my breath. I thought it was a high school kid pulling a joke on us. … Then it hits you: this is happening, it’s no joke.”)

Then the man ordered the boys to dump their bikes and scooter and to lie face down in the ditch along the road. (Aaron remembers his heart “going 1,000 beats a minute,” but having no clue what was happening. “You didn’t hear about people being kidnapped or abducted. It didn’t cross my mind.”)

He first leaned down, looked closely at Trevor’s face and demanded his age. “Ten,” Trevor said. The man then asked Aaron the same question “eleven,” Aaron answered. Brandishing the gun, the man turned to Jacob and ordered him to give his age. Jacob said that he was eleven.

Then the gunman demanded that Trevor get up and run as fast as he could to the woods. Trevor was not gone that long, maybe 10 seconds when the man waved his pistol at Aaron and yelled, “Run to the woods as fast as you can, and don’t look back or I’ll shoot!”

Aaron ran as fast as he could to catch up to Trevor. After running 100 yards, Aaron looked back — and saw nothing but darkness (other accounts of the story say Aaron witnessed the gunman grab Jacob by the elbow of his red St. Cloud hockey jacket, leading him away into the darkness).

Frantic, the boys ran to the Wetterling house. The babysitter called her father, who called 911.

Within minutes, the cul-de-sac lit up with squad cars. Petrified, Aaron looked out a living room window and kept telling himself he would see Jacob again. “Sooner or later, he’s going to come and he’s going to get out of the car and this will all be over.”

Patty Wetterling: “By the time Aaron caught up to Trevor and they felt safe enough to turn around and look back, Jacob and the man were gone. The boys ran home and told Rochelle (the babysitter) to call 911. She called her dad, and he called 911. Then he called us.

The police arrived six minutes later and went to the place where the boys had seen the man. Jacob’s footprints were on the driveway by where the man had been standing. But then they ended and his toe sort of dug into the gravel. There appeared to be some resistance at that point. There were tire tracks on the driveway.

The neighbor who called said, “You have to come home.” Jerry grabbed me and said, “We’ve got to go. Somebody took Jacob.” I grabbed my purse. We didn’t even say goodbye. We just walked out of the party.

We had a very long drive back. I was yelling at Jerry. He didn’t have any answers, and I just kept asking questions. We didn’t have cell phones. I kept telling him to speed, but he didn’t want to get pulled over. He thought that would delay us. I said, “No, that would mean a police escort. Just go.”

We finally arrived at our road and it was a nightmare. There was a squad car, and the police stopped us and drove us home. Trevor was just…I’ve never seen a kid wound tighter. He just couldn’t stop talking. Aaron was tucked in the corner of our kitchen, biting his nails, like he was trying to disappear. He couldn’t talk. I remember Amy and Trevor and Carmen sitting on the couch in absolute terror.”

What Trevor Wetterling and Aaron Larson described – a mask, a gun and a selection process – spawned a variety of theories. The use of a mask suggested to some that the kidnapper might have been known in the community and was trying to shield his identity. Perhaps the boys even knew him. But the boys were in close physical proximity to the kidnapper, and heard his voice several times. They never identified the criminal as someone in particular. Investigators also could not recall an instance of a stranger child kidnapping in which a gun was involved. When pedophiles take children, it is for sex. They do not want to harm them physically. The gun suggests that violence was perhaps the kidnapper’s motive (side note: in an interview from 1991, Jeff Jamar of the FBI stated that: “based on what happened at the scene, we go on the assumption that it was a sex crime from the beginning. The person who abducted Jacob had… we think, attempted to abduct someone else in the recent past and it failed, hence the gun” . I wonder what the details are surrounding that failed kidnapping? I cant find any additional information about it).

Agents assigned to the FBI Academy’s Behavioral Science Unit at the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime compiled a profile of Jacob’s kidnapper:

“The offender is likely to be a white male between the ages of 25 to 35 years old; very low selfimage; likely to have committed a similar crime in the past; may have some physical deformity (such as scars or acne) and is likely to have had a recent stressful event in his life which would have precipitated the high-risk approach taken in this crime. The high-risk approach also indicates the offender may have attempted similar acts recently and failed. The offender is likely to be in an unskilled or semi-skilled job that does not include contact with the public. Persons who know the offender would likely notice heightened anxiety on the offender’s part since the crime occurred.”

Early on, it did not look like it would be too hard to find the criminal. Days after Jacob’s disappearance, police began looking for a red Chevette. Ten people said that they saw the car at the Tom Thumb moments before the kidnapping. In a town where everyone pretty much knew the vehicle of choice of everyone else, the Chevette was unfamiliar. It turned out that the mystery car probably belonged to an art student. He called police and told them that he had been in the area looking for things to sketch. His story was verified, and police moved on.

Eighteen months after Jacob’s disappearance a man was arrested for burglary in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Upon running a criminal background check, law enforcement officials discovered that the man was a previously convicted sex offender. Further, the St. Joseph police learned that in October, 1989 the man had lived closer to Jacob’s abduction site than did the Wetterling family; yet, local police had not been aware of his presence within the community. In fact, unbeknownst to local police at the time of Jacob’s disappearance, there were halfway houses in the St. Joseph area that housed sex offenders upon their release from prison. This information was disconcerting because during the search it was commonly assumed that Jacob’s kidnapper had attempted similar behavior in the past. The St. Joseph police lamented that prior knowledge of the presence of these previously convicted sex offenders may have prevented Jacob’s abduction in the first place.

In 2003 the long held belief that the abductor took Jacob away in a car was abandoned when a man named Kevin, came forward to tell the police he had left the tire tracks in the driveway after hearing about the abduction on a police scanner and rushed to the scene in his car leaving the tire tracks behind. The driver told authorities that in 1989 he had given his name and explanation for being there to an officer at the abduction scene. No record of the conversation exists though. Also, the boys did not see or hear a vehicle that night of the abduction, so the police believe that the abductor got away with Jacob on foot, which would make the abductor someone local.

Wetterling 911 Tapes

They’re the words that launched the search for Jacob Wetterling and some of them come from his 10-year-old brother Trevor. A year after the abduction, he talked about how a man asked them their ages and told them to run into the woods or else he would shoot them. The FOX 9 Investigators have obtained the seven-page 911 transcript of that first call made on October 22, 1989. The call comes from a neighbor.

Merlin Jerzak says, “I’m right now next door, my neighbors, at my neighbors, the Jerry Wetterling family. Some of the boys went down to Tom Thumb to pick up a movie and on their way back someone stopped them and ah, we believe that they have one of the boys because the, one of the boys did not come back with them.”

Dispatcher: “Okay, were you, were they picked up in a vehicle?”

Jerzak: “Just a second I’ll ask the boys was there a vehicle, ah, this person appeared ah, on the road when they were bicycling back home.”

Dispatcher: “Okay, did they see the individual at all?”

Jerzak (talking to the boys): “Did they see the individual at all? He had a mask on.”

The dispatcher then gets a rough second-hand description of the suspect. A description of the red hockey jacket Jacob was wearing with Police Department inscribed on the back. The call is confusing. The dispatcher is simultaneously dispatching squad cars, trying to figure out where the abduction occurred on the rural stretch of road and asking questions.

Dispatcher: “Give me some information on this guy with the mask, I want color, anything those kids can remember?”

That’s when Jacob’s brother, Trevor, has calmed down enough to get on the phone.

Trevor: “Well he was, he was like sorta, he was like a man, sort of big. He had like a, it looked sort of like nylon things as a mask.”

The dispatcher asks about the location of Jacob’s bike. Trevor doesn’t know what happened to it.

Trevor: “‘Cuz we have to just like run, run off into the woods.”

Dispatcher: Did the guy have a deep voice? Anything like that you can remember?”

Trevor: “Yes, did he have like a deep voice or whatever? Seemed like he had a cold sort of.”

Dispatcher: “Trevor, did you see the gun the individual had?”

Trevor: “Um, we couldn’t really see it, but we just, we sort of saw it.”

Dispatcher: “Okay, did he threaten you?”

Trevor: “Mm, what?”

Before Trevor can answer, the officers have arrived at the Wetterling home. The dispatcher ends the call telling them they’ll be sending more officers and dogs to begin the search. Unknown to anyone at the time, the heartbreaking search for Jacob Wetterling is just the beginning.

In hindsight, the most important detail from this transcript may be what’s not described. The boys never saw a car that night. The man who covered his face may have been someone the boys would recognize, a big man with a congested voice, someone on foot, someone local.

The police arrived six minutes later and went to the place where the boys had seen the man. Jacob’s footprints were on the driveway by where the man had been standing. But then they ended and his toe sort of dug into the gravel. There appeared to be some resistance at that point. There were tire tracks on the driveway.

UPDATE: This Case Has Been Solved

Danny Heinrich confesses to abducting and killing Jacob Wetterling "What did I do wrong?" the boy asked before his sexual assault and execution.

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