Like many Minnesotans, my ear was glued to the radio last week when federal and state authorities announced a new development in the decades-old disappearance of Jacob Wetterling.
It’s a shocking crime that captivated the hearts of the entire state back in 1989. And now, 26 years later, it still haunts everybody, as Jacob remains missing.
I have interviewed Jacob’s mother, Patty Wetterling, several times over the years, including one time back in the early 1990s when I worked at KAAL-TV and she spoke in Blooming Prairie about child safety.
Patty is one of the most humble, yet anguished mothers I have ever known. She just wants what we all want for our children—live life without the fear of being kidnapped and abused.
I can’t even begin to imagine what Jacob’s family has endured since he went missing after making a run to a local store by St. Joseph in October 1989. A masked man who snatched Jacob out of the thin air abducted him at gunpoint. He has never been seen since and the identity of the gunman has remained a mystery.
Last week authorities announced a man who had first been questioned about the disappearance 26 years ago has re-emerged as a “person of interest” in the chilling kidnapping. The man was arrested at his Annandale home on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.
Investigators may finally be one step closer to unraveling the crime of the century.
While authorities stressed that the Annandale man has not been charged with any crime related to Jacob’s disappearance, I found it interesting that when pressed about whether he was a suspect, they responded, “We’ll let you draw your own conclusions.” I have to believe police are finally a step closer to solving this case.
I hope for the family’s sake that closure can finally come about. The family has suffered enough.
If this never was a federal case before, it may very well be now. And that’s a good thing. The federal laws have more teeth than state statutes.
It has always struck me how strong Patty has been throughout this entire ordeal. She is a fighter for the underdog. Her advocacy focuses on protecting children from abduction and abuse.
In recent years Patty has become one of the most vocal critics of current sex offender registry laws pointing them as overly broad and unnecessarily causing tremendous harm to many. She has been raising awareness in Minnesota, in the nation, in the world.
Through it all, the Wetterlings have been standing strong hoping Jacob will come home alive.
The Wetterlings, their loved ones and all of us deserve true justice. If the Annandale man is the one with the answer as to what happened, I hope his conscience will finally get the best of him and he’ll let it out. It may be our only hope in bringing an end to the nightmare that has blanketed the entire state for far too long.
My desire is for last week’s development to put authorities in hot pursuit of bringing justice to the person responsible for one of the most evil acts to ever happen in Minnesota.