MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Al Garber, the FBI investigator who supervised the original Jacob Wetterling abduction case back in 1989, is speaking out for the first time since the arrest of Danny Heinrich — a man investigators are calling a “person of interest” in the case.

Garber wants the focus to be on finding out if Danny Heinrich is responsible for the kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling. It’s the first time he’s speaking candidly about Heinrich’s arrest in 1990 — and Heinrich’s release when there wasn’t enough evidence.

Earlier this week, WCCO reported that Garber wrote in his memoir about the FBI’s original encounter with Heinrich, who was arrested in connection to the kidnapping and sexual assault of a boy in Cold Spring. At the time, investigators thought that case and Jacob Wetterling’s disappearance could be linked.

Garber admits there were some mistakes made. He wishes they would have waited to get more evidence before arresting Heinrich. Garber told says the 70-some investigators working on the case all gave it 100 percent.

They continued to look for evidence against Heinrich in both the Cold Spring case and in Jacob’s disappearance, but Garber says it wasn’t there.

“In my whole career investigating crimes, evidence is what counts,” he said. “Whatever else that people see — emotions, logic, common sense — that’s good, but it’s not evidence. So I’m hoping that this is their first step. They proved other crimes. I’m hoping that they’re going to be able to find the evidence that either he did it, or he didn’t do it.”

Technology allowed investigators to recently match Heinrich’s DNA with the Cold Spring case, and Garber said they now know Heinrich lied to them about that case. It’s still unknown if he lied about Jacob.

Garber said he’s happy for Jared, the victim in Cold Spring, and that he’s glad an accused child pornographer is off the street.

He also said he’s glad Jacob’s case is still actively being investigated. He says he has no regrets, and that he’s hopeful this arrest will lead to answers.

Jennifer Mayerle

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