MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Stearns County officials say that they will release the files next week from the investigation into Jacob Wetterling’s abduction and murder.

In 1989, 11-year-old Jacob was kidnapped and murdered by Danny Heinrich. He confessed to the crime as part of a plea deal in 2016.

That same year, the investigative files of the Wetterling case were expected to be made public, but a lawsuit by the Wetterling family halted that. They wanted 22 files kept private.

In April, however, a judge ruled that a Minnesota law says investigative files should become public once a case has concluded.

“The plaintiff’s family tragedy had a profound effect on the people of Minnesota. In many ways, Jacob Wetterling’s kidnapping on a dirt road in a small rural town in Minnesota made us all feel less safe,” District Judge Ann L. Carrott wrote. “While the court has great personal empathy for the Wetterlings, the court must impartially apply the law, unswayed by emotion. To do so otherwise would result in an unfair application of the law.”

“This has been a long journey, and although we were saddened to hear Judge Carrott’s ruling on our case, we are thankful for her careful consideration of our concerns,” the Wetterlings said in statement released by their legal team. “From the beginning, we have witnessed firsthand the integrity and accuracy of the Minnesota news media. They have set the bar very high, and have always treated our family with respect and dignity. We trust that this high level of reporting will continue.”

Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson will hold a press conference prior to the release of the files the morning of Thursday, Sept. 20.

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