MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Almost three decades after his death, Jacob Wetterling’s life has been celebrated with a memorial service.
Patty and Jerry Wetterling, walking into the service at College of St. Benedict in Jacob’s hometown of St. Joseph, were joined by 3,600 others.
Jacob was abducted in the area in 1989. His body was found just last month.
Sunday was not about death, it was all about Jacob’s short but powerful life.
You’ve likely memorized the posters with his face, but the Wetterling’s shared images you haven’t seen of their beloved middle child. The family shared a slideshow of family photos, then played a video of Jacob emulating his dad for a Father’s Day skit, bringing the funeral crowd to a laugh.
Jacob’s sister, Amy, spoke to the crowd.
“When Jacob was taken, I was 13 and I needed my friends. All these years, we continue to rely on the support of friends, so many of you are here today. Jacob’s caring heart was and is continues to be felt through each of you, we are and always will be Jacob’s hope.”
His brother Trevor said, “I love you Jacob, you have changed my life forever. You will never be forgotten.”
His parents thanked those who have prayed and supported them.
“Every parent who is out there searching, we are still with you. Every child who has had the courage to come forward to report their own abuse, every prayer, every candle lit, every flower, every porchlight, every hug, every kind note, each and every one has provided us with the courage to move forward,” Patty Wetterling said.
Patty closed by saying, “Jacob we will always carry you in our hearts and our love for you will never die.”
Gov. Mark Dayton and other notable senators were also in attendance. Following the service, Dayton released this statement:
“Today is a very hard day for the Wetterling family and for all Minnesotans. Jacob’s tragedy profoundly affected all of us. On behalf of all Minnesotans, I extend my deepest condolences to the Wetterling family.”
On Friday, Dayton declared Oct. 22, 2016 to be “Jacob Wetterling Day” in the State of Minnesota. It will mark the 27th year since Jacob’s kidnapping.
Eleven-year-old Jacob was kidnapped at gunpoint on a gravel road not far from his home in St. Joseph on October 22nd 1989.
His disappearance haunted Minnesotans for nearly 27 years until more than three weeks ago. On Sept. 6, his kidnapper, Danny Heinrich, confessed to murdering Jacob in 1989.