Prosecutor: Jacob Wetterling’s Killer Not Getting Off Easy
Prosecutors say they consulted with Jacob Wetterling’s family and got their approval for a plea deal that means their son’s killer faces a recommended sentence of just 20 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Andy Luger told reporters after Danny Heinrich pleaded guilty to a single child pornography count Tuesday that the 53-year-old Minnesota man isn’t getting away with anything.
Luger pointed out that Heinrich accepted the plea deal knowing that state prosecutors could seek to have him civilly committed after he finishes his federal prison sentence, so he could spend the rest of his life in custody.
Jacob’s mother, Patty Wetterling, and other family members appeared at the same news conference with Luger. She thanked all the law enforcement officials who helped solve the nearly 27-year-old mystery of her son’s abduction.
The mother of Jacob Wetterling says it is “incredibly painful” to learn of her son’s last hours and minutes of life.
Jacob was 11 when he was abducted near his central Minnesota home in 1989. The man who took him, 53-year-old Danny Heinrich, admitted in federal court Tuesday to abducting Jacob, sexually assaulting him and killing him.
Patty Wetterling says Jacob was alive to his family up until authorities found his remains last week. She says her son’s legacy will live on.
Patty Wetterling also thanked Jared Scheierl, a Minnesota man whose own sexual assault as a 12-year-old was long suspected to be connected to Jacob’s disappearance. Scheierl talked publicly about his case in hopes it could help investigators find his attacker and Jacob’s.
A plea deal for the killer of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling calls for no charges in the boy’s death.
Danny Heinrich admitted abducting, sexually assaulting and shooting Jacob on Oct. 22, 1989, in a crime that horrified and mystified Minnesotans for more than a quarter-century.
His admission came in federal court in Minneapolis as he pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge.
Heinrich faces the statutory maximum of 20 years on the child pornography count, though Judge John Tunheim will decide his sentence. Heinrich could also be civilly committed to the state’s sexual offender program after his prison sentence ends.
Heinrich led authorities to Jacob’s body last week after initially denying involvement in his death.
Danny Heinrich admitted in federal court Tuesday that he killed the boy whose 1989 disappearance has transfixed Minnesota in the years since.
The 53-year-old Andover man described donning a mask and confronting three children with a revolver near Jacob’s central Minnesota home. He says he took Jacob, handcuffed him and assaulted him in a grove of trees.
Afterward, he shot Jacob and later buried him in a gravel pit, and reburied him a year later.
Heinrich says when he took Jacob, the boy asked, “What did I do wrong?”
A Minnesota man has confessed to kidnapping and killing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling nearly 27 years ago.
Danny Heinrich made the admission Tuesday as he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in federal court in Minneapolis.
Heinrich led authorities to Jacob’s remains last week, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing case.
He admitted abducting Jacob near the boy’s home in the central Minnesota community of St. Joseph on Oct. 22, 1989.
Authorities named Heinrich as a person of interest last October when they announced the child pornography charges.
A Minnesota man who led authorities to the remains of an 11-year-old boy who was abducted in 1989 is expected to appear in federal court in a child pornography case.
Danny Heinrich’s status conference is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
Last year, authorities named Heinrich as a person of interest in the abduction of Jacob Wetterling, who was snatched from a rural Minnesota road on Oct. 22, 1989.
Heinrich was never charged in that case. But he led authorities to Jacob’s remains last week, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing case.
The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office said Jacob’s remains were identified Saturday. Authorities expect to provide more details this week.