MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Monday, a judge will sentence the man who admitted to kidnapping and killing Jacob Wetterling.
Two months ago, as part of a plea deal, Danny Heinrich detailed how he kidnapped, sexually assaulted and shot Wetterling in 1989. He eventually led the FBI to Wetterling’s body, buried on a Paynesville farm.
Even so, Heinrich’s sentencing is for a child pornography charge – not Wetterling’s death.
It’s part of a plea deal made with the Wetterlings’ approval to drop all but one of the child porn charges in exchange for information on their son’s kidnapping.
Both Heinrich and the Wetterlings will get a chance to speak in court. Last week, we got some insight what may be said.
In filings, Heinrich’s attorney wrote how his client struggled with his secret and questioned why he committed the heinous crime.
“He feels a great deal of guilt and remorse for the pain and anguish he has brought the Wetterling family,” the filings said.
Patty Wetterling, Jacob Wetterling’s mother, then followed up with a statement.
“I believe his struggle with the secret was really his struggle with the fear of being caught,” she wrote. “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.”
Jared Schierl, who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted as a boy by Heinrich, will also speak at the sentencing.
Several victims who prosecutors believe were also attacked by Heinrich in Paynesville in the 1980s will also be in court.
“I am going to the sentencing to show support for the guys in Payesville, for Jared, for Jerry and Patty, and I want it to be crystal clear that Danny Heinrich doesn’t own us,” said Kris Bertelsen, who reached out to the Wetterlings because he believed the person who attacked him and the other Paynesville boys was the same person who took Jacob.
Under the plea deal, the most time Heirich could serve is 20 years in prison.
If the now 53-year-old ever does get out of prison, prosecutors say they will move to civilly commit him.