Details on the Paynesville, Minn. dig that found Jacob Wetterling

Voss' farm is about 30 miles from where Wetterling was abducted.

Here is a little more detail into the Paynesville dig site where investigators found Jacob Wetterling's remains. This account comes from Stearns County Chief Deputy Bruce Bechtold, who was there.

Danny Heinrich was led to the scene in handcuffs by law enforcement on Wednesday, August 31. His attorneys were present.

Heinrich showed no outward emotion and pointed to the general area where he said he buried Jacob behind a grove of trees. In that general vicinity, a fairly quick and detailed scan of the area revealed one piece of what appeared to be Jacob's red jacket barely poking through the surface.

Bones were found under the fabric. Those bones ended up being non-human.

About 12-20 people were on scene including crime scene investigators and technicians. The group did everything to conceal the significance of the dig, not wanting to tip anyone off. So digging occurred with only hands and shovels. No one was dressed in a law enforcement uniform. Vehicles were parked and concealed behind a barn on the large property.

The Wetterlings visited the site. They confirmed the jacket likely belonged to Jacob. Though his name appeared to have faded or deteriorated off of the jacket.

Crews returned to the scene on Friday. They moved their focus 10 to 15 feet away. Those on scene were literally down on hands and knees meticulously sifting through heavy soil, feeling for bone fragments.

A backhoe was brought in to scoop up larger amounts of earth. It eventually pulled up more of the red jacket as well as bone, teeth and other human remains. There was stunned silence. Jacob's t-shirt with "Wetterling" stitched on it surfaced. Everyone now knew the 27-year search for answers was over.

Early Saturday morning, the BCA confirmed through dental records that the remains were Jacob Wetterling. On Tuesday, September 6, as he arrived at court for Danny Heinrich's stunning confession, BCA Superintendent Drew Evans confirmed that several days of DNA analysis proved with 100 percent certainty, Jacob had been found.

Chief Deputy Bechtold was on the job just a couple months as a Patrol Officer in October 1989 when he answered a page of an armed abduction in St. Joseph. He was the very first law enforcement officer on scene that night.

INTERVIEW - Stearns County chief deputy recalls Wetterling case from the beginning


  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in – includes advertiser stories