MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The person of interest in the Jacob Wetterling case was back in court Wednesday on child pornography charges.
An FBI agent also testified in court about evidence linking 52-year-old Danny Heinrich to Wetterling’s abduction and other sexual assaults of young boys.READ MORE: Public Gets Chance To Weigh In On Wisconsin GOP's Redistricting Plans
When agents raided Heinrich’s home in Annandale last July, Heinrich admitted to them he was “addicted” to searching for child porn on the Internet, and that he was “a dirty old man.”
Heinrich — wearing a yellow prison T-shirt, orange pants and glasses — showed no emotion as FBI Agent Shane Ball laid out evidence that the judge called “chilling” at the end of the hearing.
Ball testified that a foot print at the Wetterling abduction scene is a match to Heinrich’s sneaker, and a tire print is a match to Heinrich’s blue Ford EXP. But Ball testified those matches are not considered conclusive.
He also testified that authorities decided to review the entire Wetterling case in November of 2014.
“When we got into Mr. Heinrich, it wasn’t clear why we weren’t still looking at him as a suspect,” Ball said.
But the agent’s testimony made it clear from that moment on Heinrich was not only a suspect but the focus of a broader investigation.
Ball testified investigators found that eight unsolved sexual assaults on young boys in Paynesville in the 1980s took place less than a mile from Heinrich’s home.
And new DNA testing found that Heinrich was a match in the unsolved kidnapping and sexual assault on a 12-year-old Jared Scheierl in Cold Spring in January of 1989.READ MORE: Mayor Frey Faces Minneapolis Voters With Future Of Policing At Top Of Mind
Scheierl, now 39, was at the hearing. Agents searched Heinrich’s Annandale home in July. What they found were about a hundred images of child pornography, including images from Paynesville middle school yearbooks that were morphed into pornographic scenes via Adobe Photoshop.
Agents also found four bins of boys clothing and a hundred hours of secretly-recorded videos of Annandale children playing and riding their bikes. The camera in these videos zooms in on the buttocks of children in many cases.
At the end of the hearing, Judge Tony Leung determined Heinrich will remain in custody and the case will move forward.
The judge cited Heinrich’s long record of “fixation and attraction to young male boys,” and the “gravity of danger to the community.”
Jacob Wetterling’s parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling, addressed the media Tuesday for the first time since the developments regarding Heinrich were released to the public.
“No one plays a more important role than every day citizens by reporting that little piece of information that added to other pieces of information will solve the puzzle and bring Jacob home,” Jerry Wetterling said.
“We will hope and pray that one day we will have the answer to the one question that we’ve asked for forever, ‘Where is Jacob?’ Somebody knows and we are begging for those answers,” Patty Wetterling, Jacob’s mother, said.
The Wetterlings were not in court Wednesday.MORE NEWS: Minnesota Weather: Rain Expected To Stick Around Through Thursday
Patty will be in Washington, D.C. doing work at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It is the kind of work she has been doing for the past 26 years — ever since Jacob first went missing.