MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – After attorneys for Jacob Wetterling’s killer said he still cannot understand how he did something so heinous, Jacob’s parents are responding.
In a court filing Thursday, Danny Heinrich’s public defender wrote, “The truth is he is just a man; a man with human failings. He feels a great deal of guilt and remorse for the pain and anguish he has brought the Wetterling family.”
Friday, Patty and Jerry Wetterling responded to the filing. Their full response is below.
“We appreciate the Defendant’s Sentencing Position statement released regarding Danny Heinrich. It was well written and thoughtful. This is the first our family has heard of Heinrich struggling. I wrote a letter To the Abductor of Jacob Wetterling that was sent to media outlets everywhere in February of 1999 begging for answers. I even addressed some of the same possibilities as mentioned in his Attorney’s position paper.
“‘I have found some comfort picturing you not as a mean old ugly bad guy but at one time, YOU were an eleven year old boy. Someone’s son…possibly someone’s brother needing and hopefully sharing the love an 11-year-old boy deserves. If this love wasn’t shared in your family, I’m sorry. Every child is entitled to the love and caring that family and friends provide.’
“All I was asking for was a call. I ended with ‘You have held the answers for so long. You also hold the pain. Please talk to me.’
“This letter was broadly distributed. It is doubtful in my mind that he never saw it but no call came.
“I never treated this person as less than a human being but he is a man not just with human failings but a man who made horrible choices.
“He may have had a rough childhood. For that I am sorry.
“Most victims of sexual assault do not grow up to sexually assault others.
“Most victims with head injuries don’t commit sexual offenses. Most people who commit sexual offenses are not ‘born that way.’ He made choices. Really bad choices.
“To state that he never had any intention to commit this heinous crime is ludicrous. He stated he went out hunting that night for boys. He brought a gun this time AND he brought bullets. He could have used the gun to scare the boys but he brought bullets.
“I believe his struggle with the secret was really his struggle with the fear of being caught. He may have ‘shed countless tears’ but not one tear was shed when he stood in the courtroom telling us what he did to Jacob.
“I am glad to hear he feels remorse. The only way he can know the magnitude of the pain he has caused is to allow himself to feel for someone other than himself. I hope he feels that every day just as we have had to feel the loss and the pain of losing Jacob every moment of every day.”
Heinrich’s sentencing is set for Monday. As part of a plea deal, Heinrich will not be sentenced in Jacob’s case, but on child pornography charges.