MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A federal grand jury has returned a a new child pornography indictment today against the man authorities are calling a “person of interest” in the Jacob Wetterling case.

This new indictment has 25 charges against Danny Heinrich. Five counts involve children under the age of 12, and digital images of child porn that investigators found on Heinrich’s computer.

The new charges don’t mention Jacob Wetterling, but it’s clear the federal prosecutors have significantly beefed up the child porn case against Heinrich. If convicted on all counts, the 52-year-old would almost certainly spend most of the rest of his life behind bars.

Each of the five new counts carry the possibility of a maximum 20 years in prison. Criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino reviewed the new indictment.

“There are so many counts and so many images,” Tamburino said. “And if he’s convicted on all these and he’s 52, I doubt he will live to see the day that he’s outside of prison.”

In addition, Heinrich admitted to investigators executing a search warrant on his home in July that he had “child porn,” and that some of what investigators would find would be “pretty damning.” He told investigators he was “addicted,” and that he was a “dirty old man.”

“If these admissions are admissible in court, which it looks like they are, and with everything that was found on his property, the years are just going to start stacking up,” Tamburino said.

Heinrich also admitted to downloading images online, and some of the new charges involve digital images. The new indictment also has a charge of “morphing” — prosecutors say Heinrich took pictures from 1970s Paynesville Middle School year books and spliced them onto pornographic scenes.

Documents made public in October revealed Heinrich was among the first suspects in Wetterling’s abduction, and that he has denied he had anything to do with taking Jacob Wetterling from the start.

Those October documents also revealed Heinrich is a DNA match for a sexual assault on another young boy in 1989, and that he is a suspect in at least eight unsolved sex assaults from the 1980s in Paynesville.

Heinrich is being held in isolation at the Sherburne County jail. He will likely be appearing in court within the next week on the new charges.

Esme Murphy

Comments