(KMSP) - A man who was once a person of interest in Jacob Wetterling's disappearance is firing back at those who questioned his innocence.
Dan Rassier spoke at a press conference for the first time since his attorney told FOX 9 exclusively on Sunday that he will soon sue the Stearns County Sheriff's office and the BCA. Claims include defamation, public harassment, destruction of personal property and other damages.
“It's just been 27 years of hell,” said Rassier.
The task of putting a price on all Rassier has been robbed of will be difficult.
“The stress is unbearable,” said Rassier. “It was unbearable for my dad and we really believe he died and early death because of the stress.”
The kind of stress that hovers with the dark cloud of suspicion cast over the elementary school teacher from the beginning.
“It's just pathetic to see what's happened to the case with Jacob and I'm right in the middle of it and they're trying to pin the most heinous unthinkable things on me?” he said. “And I'm working with all these kids in school?”
In 2004, that cloud erupted. Rassier's peace of mind, his reputation and status as a key witness in Wetterling's abduction took the toughest blow.
“I told Patty that they were idiots, and I explained to Patty why they were idiots. The two cars that I saw and how they ignored that and laughed at me for bringing up the cars!” said Rassier of his describing Danny Heinrich's vehicles to police the day after Wetterling was abducted.
Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner wrongly named Rassier, who is also the Wetterling's neighbor, a person of interest in the abduction. The BCA zeroed in on the wrong guy. Rassier describes the effects of the traumatic turmoil.
“A small example of it would be when they invaded the farm and Ken McDonald physically assaulted my mom,” he said. “He pulled her off of a chair, dragged her across the kitchen floor and yelled at us we're under arrest.”
Civil rights attorney Mike Padden held a press conference Tuesday at the Marriott in Brooklyn Park, Minn. to formally announce Rassier's case against Sheriff Sanner, his office, the BCA and agent McDonald.
“Dan wants to make sure that this does not happen to any other Minnesota citizen,” said Padden.
A symbiotic relationship exists between Rassier's case and that of Ryan Larson.
Larson was also wrongly accused by Sanner for the 2012 murder of Cold Springs Police Officer Thomas Decker. Neither Larson nor Rassier have had their names cleared.
Both cases are expected to be in litigation by next year.