MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether two men in prison for murder may have been involved with the abduction of Jacob Wetterling.
Delbert and Tim Huber of Paynesville – who are father and son – murdered Albertville teacher Tim Larson in a dispute over $50 in 2011.
Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner says they have received leads about the Hubers after WCCO-TV aired stories last week about a series of at least a half-dozen unsolved sexual assaults in Paynesville two years before Jacob Wetterling was abducted.
Before being sentenced for murdering Tim Larson, Delbert Huber said in court he had shot Larson in part because he had accused him of being involved in the Wetterling case.
Sanner says Delbert Huber was one of many people investigated after Wetterling was kidnapped. David Lauer, a neighbor who has known the Hubers for forty years, says Delbert bragged that he had been questioned repeatedly about Wetterling.
“He boasted about so many law officials coming out there,” Lauer said. “He was proud of attention. ‘They think they got something on me, what are they going to prove?'”
Lauer and his wife, Carolyn, testified at Tim Hubers’ trial that Delbert physically abused Tim repeatedly. At his trial, Tim Huber’s defense attorney argued that he had a “borderline IQ.”
“Tim’s head had been swelling,” Lauer said. “He had been hit hard.”
Lauer says Delbert also beat his brother-in-law, Harvey.
“It wasn’t just from falling down. He had been abused,” he said.
Delbert, his wife Jane, Tim and Harvey all lived in a Paynesville-area home without any indoor sewer system. The home was torn down last year.
“I did not want any confrontation with that man,” Lauer said.
The Lauers say Delbert openly threatened to shoot and kill anyone who crossed him.
“I was scared of him,” Carolyn said.
Lauer says Delbert once became especially enraged when he described how he himself had been abused as a child in foster care.
“Physically and sexually abused,” Lauer said. “There was so much anger in him it came to the surface. I backed away. I backed away from him.”
Others in the area we spoke with described similar threats. Marcene Dockendorf is a former pharmacy worker who had frequent conversation with Delbert that often ended in the same, alarming threat.
“If you don’t get my medication today, I will come and blow you away,” Dockendorf said.
Victims in a series of unsolved 1987 attacks in Paynesville say their attacker threatened them with the phrase, “I’ll blow your head off.” The suspect in the Wetterling case also threatened to shoot, according to Jacob’s brother, Trevor Wetterling.
“He grabbed Jacob and then he told me to run as fast as I could into the woods or else he’d shoot,” Wetterling said.
In the Paynesville cases, the Wetterling case and in the case of another young boy kidnapped nine months before Wetterling – the suspect was described as having a low, gruff voice. Carolyn Lauer’s description of Delbert’s voice is similar.
“It did have a rasp to it. Kind of a gruff, not a clear voice. Kind of a husky voice,” she said.
Sheriff John Sanner says investigators are looking in to all tips, including ones involving Delbert Huber.
If you have any information about this case, contact Sanner at 320-259-3700.