ST. JOSEPH, Minn. (KMSP) - The investigation into Jacob Wetterling's disappearance has spanned across the better part of three decades, most of it taking place in and around Jacob's hometown of St. Joseph, Minn. where he went missing in 1989.
During that time, person of interest Danny Heinrich lived in the nearby city of Paynesville and has since moved to Annandale, Minn. where the search warrant was executed in July.
With over 50,000 tips, there have been a lot of promising leads but none have ever panned out. This case has not only haunted the Wetterling’s, but the entire state of Minnesota.
Before he disappeared, Jacob made a video at school as part of a project to help ID kids should they disappear.
"My whole name is Jacob Irving Wetterling,” he says in the video. “My favorite food is steak. My favorite color is blue."
Ten days later, the 11-year-old was abducted by a masked man at gunpoint while riding his bike home after renting a movie at nearby convenience store with his brother and a friend.
His disappearance prompted the largest manhunt in state history. The National Guard, Department of Natural Resources, and dozens of volunteers searched every square inch of St. Joseph.
The case immediately drew national attention, with Patty and Jerry Wetterling appearing on Good Morning America. Patty also became a nationally-known advocate for finding missing children.
Over the last 26 years there have been plenty of anniversaries, but it seems there have been just as many false hopes -- like investigators digging up a farm near where Jacob was taken about five years ago or questioning convicted killer Delbert Huber who lived in Paynesville at the time of Jacob's disappearance.
But maybe, this time will be different, and the Wetterlings will finally get the answers they've been waiting for.