(KMSP) - Jacob Wetterling has been found. The Stearns County sheriff’s office confirmed the discovery of Jacob’s remains, nearly 27 years after the 11-year-old was abducted.
“The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office today confirms that Jacob Wetterling’s remains have been located. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner and a forensic odontologist identified the remains as Wetterling’s earlier today. Additional DNA testing will be performed at the BCA. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the FBI, the Stearns County Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office are currently in the process of reviewing and evaluating new evidence in the Jacob Wetterling investigation. Authorities expect to be in a position to provide more detailed information early next week. We are asking for your patience and respect for the Wetterling family’s privacy until that time.”
IN-DEPTH STORY - Jacob Wetterling's remains found, 27 years after abduction
Patty Wetterling: 'Our hearts are broken'
"Our hearts are broken. We have no words,” Patty Wetterling said in a text message to Fox 9.
Statement from Jacob Wetterling Resource Center
"We are in deep grief. We didn’t want Jacob’s story to end this way. In this moment of pain and shock, we go back to the beginning. The Wetterlings had a choice to walk into bitterness and anger or to walk into a light of what could be, a light of hope. Their choice changed the world.
"This light has been burning for close to 27 years. The spark began in the moments after the abduction of Jacob Wetterling, when his family decided that light is stronger than darkness. They lit the flame that became Jacob’s Hope. All of Central Minnesota flocked to and fanned the flame, hoping for answers. The light spread state-wide, nationally and globally as hearts connected to the 11 year old boy who liked to play goalie for his hockey team, wanted to be a football player, played the trombone, and loved the times he spent with his sisters, brother, and parents.
"Today, we gather around the same flame. The flame that has become more than the hope for one as it led the way home for thousands of others. It’s the light that illuminates a world that Jacob believed in, where things are fair and just.
"Our hearts are heavy, but we are being held up by all of the people who have been a part of making Jacob’s Hope a light that will never be extinguished. It shines on in a different way. We are, and we will continue to be, Jacob’s Hope. Jacob, you are loved."
Jacob Wetterling's abduction
Jacob Wetterling was abducted back in 1989 near his St. Joseph, Minnesota home. Court documents say he was taken at gunpoint by a masked man when he was just 11 years old.
Danny Heinrich of Annandale, Minn. was arrested last October on federal child pornography charges and named a person of interest in the Wetterling case. His DNA matched a the sexual assault of a boy in Cold Spring, also in 1989.
On July 28, 2015, investigators searched Heinrich’s Annandale home for evidence related to the Cold Spring kidnapping and the abduction of Jacob Wetterling. Investigators recovered Heinrich’s collection of child pornography from a computer and from three-ring binders. That discovery led to Heinrich’s arrest and charging on 25 counts of child pornography offenses.
Heinrich's federal trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 11 in Minneapolis. His case is scheduled to return to federal court on Tuesday, Sept. 6 for a pre-trial hearing.
Recent case timeline
Feb. 21 - Danny Heinrich enters not guilty plea