ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) — Jacob Wetterling’s killer faces new legal trouble. A man he’s accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting as a child has sued him.
The hearing on Friday lasted just a couple hours with Jared Scheierl’s attorney calling four witnesses in all, including Jared, his ex-wife, a childhood friend and Patty Wetterling. They all painted a vivid picture of how they say Danny Heinrich has destroyed lives.
The 12-year-old boy once kidnapped and assaulted months before Jacob Wetterling’s murder walked out of court a 41-year-old man finally feeling some relief.
“Two years ago when I brought this complaint I promised him, I said, ‘Someday we’ll get you your day in court.’ Today was that day,” said Doug Kelley, Scheierl’s lawyer.
“I think a lot of the emotion that I’d been going through over the past few years could have been avoided had I had the opportunity to charge Danny Heinrich initially in 2016,” Scheierl said.
Statute of limitations laws and restitution rules kept Scheierl from any real justice. On Friday, he detailed for a judge his anxiety and depression from the trauma – a father of three who lost his focus at work and lost his marriage a few years ago.
“It’s hard to watch the people you care about break down and recognize their feelings and emotions are wrapped up in this, too,” Scheierl said.
Patty Wetterling became a close friend of Scheierl.
“It’s been a long, long hard, hard journey,” she said.
She watched as he became consumed with finding answers and closure for their family. Scheierl helped piece the attacks in Paynesville together, convincing other victims to come forward and paving the way to Heinrich.
“He was so incredibly powerfully part of our resolution,” she said.
A judge will decide in the next month how much Scheierl is owed in damages.
“Time heals. If that means being alone to process my own thoughts and just staying out of the limelight, that’s what I’ll do,” Scheierl said.
Heinrich is serving 20 years behind bars. He pleaded guilty to child pornography charges as part of a deal that ended the Jacob Wetterling mystery.