Mother writes birthday message to son Jacob Wetterling
The family of Jacob Wetterling plans to mark his 38th birthday Wednesday with cake, candles and his favorite foods. Wetterling was 11 when he was kidnapped in October 1989 in St. Joseph, Minn., as he biked home with his brother, Aaron, and a friend.
The family of Jacob Wetterling plans to mark his 38th birthday Wednesday with cake, candles and his favorite foods.
Wetterling was 11 when he was kidnapped in October 1989 in St. Joseph, Minn., as he biked home with his brother, Aaron, and a friend.
Patty Wetterling's birthday message for her son was published this week by the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center.
"Birthdays are supposed to be about parties, hats and noisemakers, cake, ice cream, friends singing and making wishes, but not yet. Not this year, again," Wetterling wrote.
"How I wish to wrap my arms around you and hug you tight! ... My birthday wish is for you to come home. We need to find you."
In the message, Wetterling said new developments in the case last fall attracted national attention.
"Twenty-six years later, news of possible answers had your story as the number two news coverage in the region," she wrote. "That's pretty amazing, 26 years later. People care. There are more good people than bad in the world, and people still hope."
Daniel James Heinrich, 52, of Annandale was named in October as a "person of interest" in the abduction after he was arrested in an unrelated case and charged with possessing child pornography.
Heinrich will be arraigned at 10 a.m. Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leo Brisbois in Minneapolis. A trial is scheduled to start July 11.
Heinrich has not been charged in the Wetterling case, but authorities searched his home in July seeking ties to the boy's disappearance.
Authorities instead found child pornography and photos and videos of young boys. The images spanned decades, but photos of Wetterling were not among them, investigators said.
Authorities were also searching for evidence related to the 1989 kidnapping and sexual assault of 12-year-old Jared Scheierl in Cold Spring, Minn., nine months before Wetterling's abduction. The Pioneer Press typically doesn't identify victims of sexual assault, but Scheierl has spoken publicly for years about his case.
Heinrich was linked by freshly retested DNA evidence to Scheierl's assault, and investigators have long believed that attack was related to the Wetterling case and to a string of unsolved sexual assaults on eight young boys in Paynesville from 1986 to 1988.
Jacob was taken less than a mile from his home, which is about 20 miles from Paynesville.
Heinrich was questioned in 1989 and 1990 about the disappearance, but authorities say he has denied any involvement.
In her birthday message to her son, Patty Wetterling wrote that she hopes "no other child will have to endure abduction or sexual exploitation of any type."
"We are working just as hard on prevention as we are on searching because this is so wrong ... so unfair," she wrote.
Wetterling, who serves as board chairwoman of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said she often watches the video that was shot on Jacob's 11th birthday Feb. 17, 1989. The family rented a suite at the Holiday Inn and had a pool party, she wrote.
"You and Aaron raced back and forth in the pool and took turns throwing each other in the deep end," she wrote. "It was so much fun! I want you to know that since you were stolen away from us, people everywhere have been searching, praying and hoping for your safety and for answers.
"We love you Jacob and we'll never stop searching for you! I so wish for a happy birthday for you."