MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — He was considered a person of interest in Jacob Wetterling’s kidnapping for years. Now, a neighbor and witness to the crime will get his personal belongings back after a very public search of his property.
It’s been more than six years since the Stearns County Sheriff’s office lead the search of Dan Rassier’s farm just south of St. Joseph. The agency has kept a number of items ever since.
Rassier has hired an attorney who says the request to have them all returned is just the beginning.
“I think some of the things that happened are despicable,” Rassier’s attorney Michael Padden said.
At one point Padden didn’t want to discuss how Stearns County handled the Jacob Wetterling case from a legal perspective. Instead, he wanted to make a statement as a father and Minnesotan.
“What happened here, in terms of investigation, is very disturbing on a guttural level,” Padden said. “I’m very angry about it.”
He says he’s most angry for the man he’s representing, Dan Rassier. A music teacher and marathon runner turned suspect.
“Just imagine being an innocent person and law enforcement tries to pin the highest profile criminal case in state history on you when you’re completely innocent,” Padden said.
Search warrants suggest Rassier’s comments turned the attention toward him, saying “he runs to suppress pain,” that he “believed he had a double personality,” and that there were “plenty of places on the farm to dispose of a body.”
Rassier always maintained on the night of Jacob’s abduction he saw a small, dark car quickly turn around in his driveway. In 2004, Stearns County investigators shifted their focus to an abduction on foot, despite the fact that a set of tire tracks and a footprint matched Danny Heinrich.
“We think the abduction on foot theory was nonsense from the word ‘Go,” Padden said.
Padden would only say they’re in the process of researching this case. But, that a lawsuit against certain Stearns County investigators is quite possible.
Stearns County Chief Deputy Bruce Bechtold told Liz today they couldn’t give Dan Rassier his stuff back because the case was considered open until Danny Heinrich confessed to kidnapping and killing Jacob Wetterling in September.
Rassier’s attorney says his client should have things like video tapes, shoelaces, and a piece of furniture returned in the next couple of days.