Top 10 of 2015: #1 – Danny Heinrich Named Person of Interest in Wetterling Case
ANNANDALE -- Today we unveil our top local news story for 2015...coming in at #1 is the story of an Annandale man charged with child pornography, who is also a person of interest in the abduction of Jacob Wetterling.
An investigation into the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling led to the arrest of 52-year-old Danny Heinrich of Annandale. The arrest wasn't related to the Wetterling case, but search warrants at Heinrich's home turned up 19 binders full of photos of naked young boys and video tapes. A federal grand jury has since handed up a 25-count indictment which supersedes a five-count criminal complaint filed in October when Heinrich was arrested.
The indictment doesn't mention Jacob Wetterling, but his mother Patty Wetterling told a crowd in Paynesville they've heard Danny Heinrich's name before, but Heinrich's name was one of 40,000 leads in the case.
Between 1986 and 1988 there were multiple incidents in which young boys were physically and/or sexually assaulted in Paynesville. DNA found on a Cold Spring boy's sweatshirt matches Heinrich's DNA, but Heinrich can't be tried in that sexual assault case because the statute of limitations has expired.
Patty and her husband Jerry Wetterling applaud the victims who have come forward, but Patty says her focus is not on Heinrich, but rather finding Jacob.
Heinrich has not been charged in Jacob's abduction. But, speaking at a media briefing after Heinrich's arrest, Patty Wetterling told reporters people like Heinrich need to be identified and arrested. She says it's up to all of us to stop the exploitation of children.
Even though Heinrich is not charged in Jacob's disappearance yet, the Wetterlings say they will always keep hope alive until Jacob comes home.