PAYNESVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) - From keeping our country safe to keeping our hometowns safe, the parents of Jacob Wetterling held a community meeting in Paynesville, Minn. on Sunday night to make sure abuse victims are speaking up and those responsible are brought to justice.
In front of a room of more than 100 people, Jacob’s parents talked about new developments in their son's case and the arrest of Danny Heinrich -- "We knew about him from the beginning, but he was one of 40,000 leads," Patty Wetterling said.
After 30 years missing and no criminal charges, the Wetterlings say they were caught off guard by the naming of Heinrich as a person of interest.
"When this all came up fast, we had 24 hour notice that the arrest was going to be made and it really backhanded us, and we know your community was backhanded too,” Jerry Wetterling said.
The Wetterlings said they wanted to hold the community meeting in order to offer their support and suggest resources for other victims of sexual assault, because they said the arrest and media attention that followed may have dug up old emotions.
“Please know and have trust in your community leadership,” Patty said. “They didn't cause any of this harm and they are trying to rebuild this community."
And as always, they called for tips and said every little bit helps.
"We've got information but I don't think we have it all yet so if somebody has it, that little piece that can complete the puzzle, we really need it,” Jerry said.
Patty says the community has been concerned about her family and she says they're okay. Their focus has always been on prevention and how they can stop this happening in another community.
The Wetterlings gave this advice: Participate in kids activities, do background checks on people working with your kids, know who your children’s friends are, talk to kids, be alert of suspicious situations, and trust your instincts.
Tips can go to 1-800-THE-LOST