MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that Jacob Wetterling’s remains have been found.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner and a forensic odontologist identified the remains as Wetterling’s.

A source told WCCO the suspect in the Wetterling case led the FBI to the remains.

Agents pressed Danny Heinrich for information on the nearly 27-year-old mystery in the last few days. Sources say the FBI took Heinrich out of jail at least twice this week.

Jacob Wetterling (credit: CBS)

Jacob Wetterling (credit: CBS)

It is during that time that Heinrich told investigators where they would find Jacob’s body. Searchers have been at a site in Stearns County for several days, and at some point found bodily remains and Jacob’s clothing at the scene.

Jacob’s mother, Patty Wetterling, texted WCCO’s Esme Murphy Saturday morning.

“Our hearts are broken. We have no words,” Wetterling said.

Patty said the family will release an official statement at some point.

Jacob was 11 when he was kidnapped by a masked gunman on Sunday, Oct. 22, 1989 in St. Joseph. He was biking home from a convenience store with his brother and a friend.

The FBI says a similar case happened in January of 1989, when 12-year-old Jared Scheierl was sexually assaulted in nearby Cold Spring. There was also a series of sexual assaults in nearby Paynesville in 1986 and 1987.

Danny Heinrich, of Annandale, was questioned in 1990 about the assaults and the Wetterling case, but was never formally charged.

The FBI named Heinrich a person of interest in the Wetterling case last October. Heinrich was charged with 25 counts of child pornography possession on the same day, to which he eventually pleaded not guilty.

Danny Heinrich (credit: CBS)

Danny Heinrich (credit: CBS)

It was also announced on that day that DNA taken from Heinrich in 1990 linked him to Scheierl’s assault, a discovery made by investigators in 2015.

Heinrich would not face any charges due to the statute of limitations, but Scheierl filed a civil suit against him in May, accusing Heinrich of sexual battery and false imprisonment.

Heinrich’s attorney has asked for evidence and incriminating statements made to investigators to be thrown out of his child porn case. His attorney also asked for his trial to be moved away from the Twin Cities area, which was denied.

Heinrich will likely face decades in prison for possessing the porn, with experts calling it a very strong case against him. His trial is scheduled for next month, but there is concern that it could all fall apart due to the possible discovery of Wetterling’s remains. He could appear in court as early as Tuesday, although nothing has yet been scheduled.

Sources tell WCCO the discovery of Jacob’s remains were part of a plea deal made with Heinrich that prosecutors had been working on for months.

Criminal Defense Attorney Joe Friedberg is not directly involved in the case, but he told WCCO today a deal like this would be rare in a murder case.

Friedberg believes it means Heinrich will plead guilty to the child pornography charges and not be prosecuted for Jacob’s murder. As part of the deal it could mean Heinrich serves the rest of his life in a better federal prison.

“I can’t imagine that he said, ‘Look, I’ve done this and I’ve lived with it for so long I’d like to get rid of it,'” Friedberg said. “My guess is some form of immunity was given to him so he would lead them to where Jacob’s remains are.”

Friedberg also says state law states that a victims’ family would first have to sign off on such a plea deal. Meaning, the Wetterling’s would have agreed to this if Heinrich lead authorities to Jacob’s remains.

The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center released this statement Saturday morning on their Facebook page:

“We are in deep grief. We didn’t want Jacob’s story to end this way. In this moment of pain and shock, we go back to the beginning. The Wetterlings had a choice to walk into bitterness and anger or to walk into a light what could be, a light of hope. Their choice changed the world.

This light has been burning for close to 27 years. The spark began in the moments after the abduction of Jacob Wettlering, when his family decided that light is stronger than darkness. They lit the flame that became Jacob’s Hope. All of Central Minnesota flocked to and fanned the flame, hoping for answers.

The light spread state-wide, nationally and globally as hearts connected to the 11 year old boy who liked to play goalie for his hockey team, wanted to be a football player, played the trombone, and loved the times he spent with his sisters, brother and parents.

Today, we gather around the same flame. the flame that has become more than the hope for one as it led the way home for thousands of others. It’s the light that illuminates a world that Jacob believed in, where things are fair and just.

Our hearts are heavy, but we are being held up by all of the people who have been a part of making Jacob’s Hope a light that will never be extinguished. It shines on in a different way. We are, and we will continue to be, Jacob’s Hope. Jacob, you are loved.”

* Minnesota Reacts To Jacob Wetterling Developments
* Annandale Man, 52, Named Suspect In Wetterling Case
* The Timeline In The Jacob Wetterling Abduction Case
* ‘I’m Just Glad He’s Gone’: Neighbors On Wetterling Case POI
* Statute Of Limitations Comes Into Question In Wetterling Case
* Man Who Escaped Abduction Holds Out Hope For Wetterling Break
* Investigators Think Paynesville Attacks, Wetterling Case Connected
* Wetterlings Plead For Answers In Jacob’s Abduction
* Fmr. FBI Agent: Early Wetterling Investigation Was ‘A Bad Mistake’
* Original FBI Investigator On Wetterling Case Speaks Out
* Wetterling Person Of Interest Sued In Other Boy’s Abduction
* A Look At Danny Heinrich’s Criminal Past
* Patty Wetterling Opens Up About Heinrich Arrest For The First Time
* Nazi Memorabilia, New Kids’ Clothing Found In Heinrich’s Home
* Danny Heinrich Pleads Not Guilty To 25 Counts; Trial Date Set
* Judge Denies Heinrich’s Motion To Move Child Porn Trial

Comments (56)
  1. Mike Coxin says:

    What no Prince stories today?

    1. So all the news segments within this site, you choose this one for your callous remark?POS

      1. Rebecca says:

        I was thinking the exact something!!!! I don’t care if it was a joke but to do it on an article like this and on one that many of us have prayed for him and his family often and followed everything that was released.

  2. Much explanation need from FBI and MN investigators about this case. Prayers for Jacob and his loved ones.

  3. Ferne says:

    So sorry for the family . I think anyone that ever heard of Jacob ”hoped”,for a different ending.My prayers and condolences are sent for Jacob’s family

  4. So very sad. Governor Dayton needs to declare a day of Remembrance and Honor for Jacob and his family.

  5. Gary says:

    Oh no. All these years we have been hoping for a better ending. So so sad.

  6. Virginia ronsberg says:

    I am so sad to hear this news. I have thought about Jacob all these years and hope one day to find him, but not like this. My heart goes out to the family!

  7. Susan smith says:

    The light the Wetterlings led with 27 years ago will never go out. They have been such an inspiration. My prayers and tears go out to the family.

  8. Jane Hoffman says:

    Denny Heinreich knew all along where the child’s remains was. He took an evil vice and killed people for sport. He probably cannot conceive in his limited mind the suffering he has caused the parents over lengthy years. My daughter, Alexis, died in surgery. I cannot begin to fathom what the parents experienced.

  9. memphisgrass says:

    Holding his silence for 27 years on top of killing this child is pure Evil.

  10. MPederstuen says:

    I do not like to see the perpetrator’s and victim’s side by side on the internet ad for this story. That criminal does not deserve top billing!

  11. Hop Harrigan says:

    Execution for this creep. Bring back executions nationwide. Don’t house and feed these parasites.

  12. Caroline Black says:

    This perp is the devil on earth. My heart is broken for the Weterling family. I hope punishment will be swift and severe. No one should lose a child this way. So sorry. The justice system is broken when men like this are allowed to,live.

  13. toni says:

    I am hoping that there is a secret society of men whom think of privately investigating these cases, whom read the past criminal records, whom read the trends of these pedophiles, whom get the DNA, and silently track these pedophiles than torture them to DEATH, because this government DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! All this nothing makes me feel that the judges of America look away and or are themselves a pedophiles! I don’t get American any longer! The criminals are winning people! WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING NOW!

  14. toni says:

    I am hoping that there is a secret society of men whom think of privately investigating these cases, whom read the past criminal records, whom read the trends of these pedophiles, whom get the DNA, and silently track these pedophiles than torture them to DEATH, because this government DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! All this nothing makes me feel that the judges of America look away and or are themselves a pedophiles! I don’t get America any longer! The criminals are winning people! WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING NOW!

  15. JoeInMidwest says:

    So sad.
    Hopefully, Heinrich’s cellmate will be at least 6’5”, and for some 27 years make Heinrich experience nothing but pure terror. Pure terror.

  16. Esme should lose her job over Dilbert — it perfectly illustrates how the media helps bumble investigations and ruins people’s lives for ratings.

  17. J Stotz says:

    They had his shoe prints and tired tracks from the scene, and it takes them 27 years to solve this? I have no words, just tears.

  18. Jay Brown says:

    Without Mr Henirich’s providing the burial site location, this day would never have been. Because he finally gave the Wetterling family this closure, I want to thank him. All too many disappear and families of missing children never learn the fate of their loved ones. Anyone thats read anything about Jacob’s case over the years hoped for the best outcome, and is greatly saddened by the news of what we long suspected.. Our hearts break for you, and hope you can now find peace in bringing your son home to rest.

  19. Jack Jackson says:

    I pray the old perv dies a violent death in prison at the hands of the other inmates. I have stressed over this case and Johnny Gosch since the day I heard about them.

  20. Karol says:

    Ciekawy blog. Lubię tu wracać bo każdy twój wpis czytam z uwagą. Twoje wpisy czyta się z przyjemnością co sprawia że człowiek się nie męczy siedząc tutaj. Tak trzymaj.