PAYNESVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) - When Jacob Wetterling was abducted in October of 1989, one of the suspects, Danny Heinrich, lived in a hotel in Paynesville with his mother. He was 26 years old at the time and was already a suspect for sex crimes in Paynesville, but he kept his greatest secret buried just outside of town.
Now, numerous media reports state Heinrich told authorities where they could find Jacob’s body.
Sunday night, cars made their way down a county road just outside of town. But these drives weren’t idyllic weekend rides, but they were also something more than morbid curiosity. People wanted to see it, if only from a distance, where investigators finally found Jacob Wetterling.
“I’ve driven by it hundreds of times never thinking something like that could happen there,” said Susan Mertesdorf, a Paynesville resident.
Law enforcement will not say exactly where Danny Heinrich led them to Wetterling’s remains, but law enforcement activity in the last few days had focused on pasture land a mile outside of town, just beyond the trees.
Neighbors told Fox 9 police activity began there on Wednesday and continued through Friday. They also brought in a back hoe, but the owner of the property said out of respect for the Wetterling’s, he won’t comment.
For nearly three decades, Danny Heinrich has been a suspect. First, in the molestation of eight boys in Paynesville, and then almost immediately in the Wetterling case 30 miles away in St. Joseph.
The Stenger sisters knew Danny Heinrich since he was a kid and remembered him as a “chubby little kid” who was “harmless.”
They grew up hearing the stories of how Danny was himself molested by a local pedophile, Duane Hart by the river - not far from where Jacob was apparently found.
It took nearly 27 years, but now, there is a place to point to and say where Jacob was all along, waiting to be found.