Man pleads guilty to killing Jacob Wetterling 27 years ago
MINNEAPOLIS--Danny Heinrich, the man who led authorities to the remains of Jacob Wetterling, admitted in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, Sept. 6, that he abducted and killed the 11-year-old boy some 27 years ago.
MINNEAPOLIS-Danny Heinrich, the man who led authorities to the remains of Jacob Wetterling, admitted in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, Sept. 6, that he abducted and killed the 11-year-old boy some 27 years ago.
Heinrich described during a court hearing what happened the night of Oct. 22, 1989, the last night Jacob was seen alive.
Asked whether he abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered Jacob, Heinrich said: “Yes, I did.”
The 53-year-old Annandale, Minn., man made the admission after pleading guilty to one federal count of receiving child pornography that could send him to prison for 20 years.
He will not be charged in Jacob’s death due to a plea deal made with prosecutors and agreed to by the Wetterling family.
He recalled handcuffing the young boy and putting him in the backseat of his car after he stopped the 11-year-old at gunpoint as he rode his bike home along a rural road in St. Joseph, Minn., with his brother and best friend.
“What did I do wrong,” he said Jacob asked him, before crying and begging Heinrich to take him home.
“I said, ‘don’t cry,’” Heinrich said.
He later told the court how he impulsively shot and killed the 11-year-old with a revolver in a panic after he said he saw a police car drive by without any lights on.
He used a Bobcat to dig a grave and bury him. He took the machine from a nearby construction company. When he returned to the grave site a year later, Heinrich said he could see Jacob’s red jacket.
He took the coat and Jacob’s remains and reburied them across the highway, Heinrich said.
Jacob’s mother, Patty Wetterling, sobbed as Heinrich recounted the details of the night that has for so long remained a mystery.
Heinrich had been charged with 25 counts of possessing and receiving child pornography; he pleaded not guilty to those charges in February and was set to go to trial in October.
~ Written by Mary Devine of the St. Paul Pioneer Press