MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Following a hearing Tuesday where Danny Heinrich admitted to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Jacob Wetterling, the Wetterlings spoke publicly for the first time since learning Jacob had been found.
The Wetterling family was in the front row in the courtroom when Heinrich confessed in detail.
Patty said it was incredibly painful to know her son’s last days, hours and minutes. She said they had always held out hope that Jacob was alive until he was found last week.
For nearly 27 years, Patty has talked about the hope she had of finding her son.
On Tuesday, surrounded by her husband, son and two daughters, she spoke about Heinrich’s confession saying, in part, that she still has hope for other missing children.
“We love you Jacob. We will continue to fight. Our hearts are hurting. I would love to talk to you all. I’m just not ready yet because for us, Jacob was alive until we found him. We need to heal and we will speak with you. There [were a] lot of lessons learned and there’s a lot of work to protect all of our world’s children,” Patty said.
Patty also thanked another victim of Heinrich’s, Jared Scheierl. She said Scheierl had the courage to stand up and share his story until people started listening.
Nine months before Jacob’s kidnapping, Scheierl was assaulted in Cold Spring. DNA linked the case to Heinrich early last year, which ultimately led investigators to the discovery of child pornography in Heinrich’s home last summer.
Scheirel said he’s in the midst of finding a new purpose in helping others find closure.
“I hope to open the doors to the Paynesville community. It’s where I have lived for the last 27 years, unbeknownst to me Jacob was resting there the whole time. The irony in that is surreal,” Scheierl said.
Heinrich can’t be charged in the Scheierl case because too much time passed. But Scheierl sued him and is seeking damages.
Like Scheierl mentioning his finding a new purpose, Patty said there were a lot of lessons learned and a lot of work still to do to protect children.
She’ll be speaking about that in the days to come.