By Esme Murphy

ANNANDALE, Minn. (WCCO) — A Twin Cities real estate developer was so moved by Jacob Wetterling’s case that he has paid cash to buy and tear down the Annandale home of Jacob’s killer.

Tim Thone saw a story on WCCO about the home and — even before he knew it was in foreclosure — decided he had to purchase it.

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Thone says he told his attorney to get the deal done. Last week, he wired the $55,000 listed as an asking price.

The city of Annandale had tried three times to purchase the home and its offers had been rejected. Tim Thone’s act is drawing thank you’s from a grateful community, and even Patty Wetterling.

“It’s definitely proof that Christmas miracles do happen,” Annandale Mayor Dwight Gunnarson said.

“It’s just a beautiful gift, especially this time of year,” Annandale resident Dawn Schaefer-Stumpf said.

Thone says he plans to destroy the home of confessed predator, kidnapper and murderer Danny Heinrich.

“This was the right thing to do,” Thone said.

Thone says he knew the second he saw the home on TV what he would do.

“I looked at my wife and said ‘If that house is still there, I’m going to tear it down,'” he said.

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Thone says Jacob’s 1989 abduction changed the way he and his wife parented their four children.

“It was very emotional,” he said. “We lived in a rural lot — six acres. Our kids were not allowed to go into the front yard.”

Thone says he will give the land to the city of Annandale to do whatever they want with it. His only requirement: Neither his name or Danny Heinrich’s name should be attached to whatever the city does with the land.

Two days ago he was stunned to get a thank you call from Patty Wetterling.

“It was a very emotional conversation. I apologized many, many times for her loss, which I can’t even imagine,” he said. “She just described that it means a lot to her. It means a lot to the children who were abused by the predator, and it could mend and heal a little bit.”

In a text message to WCCO, Wetterling said Thone had given “a generous gift to so many.”

Thone says he expects to close on the deal this Friday.

And if all the red tape can be worked out he is hoping to tear the home down two days before Christmas on December 23rd. He has gotten a number of offers from people saying they want to donate to help him buy the house . He says he doesn’t want the money – he instead wants people to give to the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center .

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The Mayor says the city plans to wait “until the dust settles” to decide what to do with the land.

Esme Murphy