After 30 years, family hopes for answers in missing toddler case

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Before Jacob Wetterling, there was Aaron Anderson - a then 22-month-old who went missing six months before Jacob did.

Nearly 30 years later, Aaron's family still holds out hope for answers

“He just loved this dog and the dog just loved him and they were just inseparable they were just always together,” said Paulette Anderson, Aaron’s mother, as she held a photo of him hugging his dog.

“When Aaron went missing, Treasure, the dog, just started crying,” she said.

It was April 7, 1989.

“The dog would just whine,” she said.

The details remain as vivid as her favorite snapshot of Aaron.

“It would sure be nice to have closure,” she said.

Anderson believes Aaron was abducted from her then Pine City home. He was playing in their yard as she cooked dinner and periodically checked on Aaron. Their yard bordered the Snake River. 

“They said it was one of the most intensive searches they’ve ever seen done in the state,” said Anderson.

Search and rescue combed the river and area extensively. With no sign of Aaron, even three decades later, Aaron's case remains open.

“Even if somebody’s already shared info with the Pine County Sheriff’s Office, I’d like them to go back and say, ‘I’d like to be re-interviewed and tell you again what I know, so you can ask me questions that maybe you didn’t ask before,’” said Teresa Lhotka, the executive director of Missing Children Minnesota.

Aaron could be identified by a small, white birthmark on the lower right side of his abdomen. Age-progressed photos also show what Aaron might look like today.

New resources, technology and DNA testing keep Aaron’s three siblings hopeful they have greater chances of reconnecting with their big brother.

“We realize it’s been 30 years and he may have a family of his own, in his own life, and people that he considers his family, but we would be understanding and accepting of that,” said Nathanael Anderson, Aaron’s brother.

Currently, there are 36 active missing children’s cases in Minnesota, so the Andersons aren't alone.

“Each family has to go through that every single day, waking up knowing they lost a child,” said Abriana Anderson, Aaron’s sister.

That’s why they cleave to faith for all who endure their never-ending cycle of grief.

“We’re never ever going to stop looking for him until there’s closure or I’m dead,” said Paulette Anderson.

Anyone with information about what happened to Aaron is urged call the Pine County Sheriff's Office.