By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A man who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by Jacob Wetterling’s killer was awarded $17 million Thursday by a Stearns County judge.

The award is part of a civil case filed against Danny Heinrich by Jared Scheierl. It was new DNA testing in 2015 that showed Heinrich was the man who kidnapped Scheierl.

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A year later, Heinrich would confess to both the Wetterling and Scheierl cases as part of a plea deal on child pornography charges.

Patty Wetterling again expressed her gratitude to Scheierl, saying without his tireless efforts the 27-year mystery of the kidnapping and murder of her son would never have been solved.

The court ruling details the $17 million award to Jared Scheierl. Scheierl was 12 years old when he was abducted in January of 1989 in Cold Spring, Minnesota. Just nine months later, Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped in the nearby town of St. Joseph. That night, Jacob was biking home with his brother, Trevor, and friend, Aaron Larson, from a St. Joseph convenience store.

Aaron Larson told WCCO in 1989 the day after the abduction: “… he grabbed Jacob and told us to run as fast as he could or he would shoot …”

For years, Scheierl would argue that the same man who abducted him took Jacob.

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Patty Wetterling spoke to us from Colorado where she is visiting her son Trevor.

“I am happy for Jared that he got the acknowledgment for the pain and the journey he has been on,” she said.

“I really believe it is because of his forthrightness of identifying other victims and talks about it that ultimately resolved both of our cases,” Wetterling added.

Scheierl says he pursued a civil case against Heinrich after he was told that the criminal statute of limitations had expired in his case

“It’s been quite a journey — we filed the civil case just over four years ago,” Scheierl said. “There won’t be any monetary compensation unless he wins the lottery and I don’t know if he is allowed to play the lottery where he is sitting.”

Heinrich, now 55, is in a federal prison in Massachusetts.

He is scheduled to be released on the child pornography charges in 2033 when he is 70 years old.

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Scheierl thanked the Wetterling family, as well as his attorney Doug Kelley.

Esme Murphy