MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The family of the late Jacob Wetterling has filed a lawsuit to keep some of the files involved in his kidnapping case private.
The lawyers who filed the suit argue that they “recognize, as do our clients, that once Jacob’s file was closed the vast majority of documents in the criminal investigative file would be made public under Minnesota law. We have filed a lawsuit today asking that a judge review a very small proportion of those documents that we believe should not be disclosed since they violate the Wetterlings’ constitutionally protected privacy.”
The legal team said that none of the documents they seek to keep private are “germane to the central facts of this crime.”
Stearns County District Judge Ann Carrott signed the order Friday.
The contents of the Wetterling case file were set to be unsealed on Monday.
Last year, Danny Heinrich admitted last year to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Wetterling in 1989. He decided to cooperate with authorities as part of a plea bargain and led investigators to a burial site.
Work on the investigative file began in late October after Heinrich’s confession. Investigators said the file contains more than 100,000 pages of interviews, tips, lead sheets and reports compiled over 27 years.
The cost of preparing all of these documents is staggering. In March, a Stearns County Sheriff’s deputy told the St. Cloud Times it could easily reach $200,000 total.
“We survived living through this once and choose not to live through it again. We are moving forward not backward. To protect our family’s privacy we have filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent disclosure of personal information that our lawyers tell us is private,” the family said in an issued statement. “We can choose to not live in the darkness for one more moment of one more day. We are continuing to work to honor Jacob and the world he believed in.”