Document reveals how Danny Heinrich was linked to Jacob Wetterling

A memo filed Wednesday by federal prosecutors outlines why Danny Heinrich was named a person of interest in the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling.  Prosecutors point to the similarities between the January 13, 1989 abduction of Jared Scheierl in Cold Spring, Minn. and the Oct. 22, 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling in St. Joseph, Minn.

“It has long been believed that the Cold Spring and Wetterling abductions were likely to have been committed by the same person,” the memo says.

According to the court document, DNA from the sweatshirt worn by Scheierl was collected in 1989, and Heinrich provided a voluntary hair sample in 1990. In 2012, lab test confirmed Scheierl’s sweatshirt contained DNA from at least two people. In 2015, investigators submitted Heinrich’s hair sample for a DNA profile, and on July 10, 2015 they learned Heinrich’s DNA was on Jared Scheierl’s sweatshirt.

“Investigators now had proof that Danny Heinrich was the person who kidnapped and sexually assaulted JS in Cold Spring in 1990,” the court filing says.

But the statute of limitations had expired to prosecute Heinrich in the kidnapping and sexual assault of Jared Scheierl, but the similarities to the Wetterling case could not be ignored.

"The presence of the defendant’s DNA on the sleeve of the Cold Spring victim, the similarity of manner in which the attacks were conducted, their geographic proximity, the sexual motivation of the offenses, the similarity of ages and gender of the victims, the similar physical description of the suspect, the tire tracks and footprints at the scene of the Wetterling abduction — all link the offenses to each other and to the defendant," the court document says.

On July 28, 2015, investigators searched Heinrich’s Annandale, Minn. home for evidence related to the Cold Spring kidnapping and the abduction of Jacob Wetterling. Investigators recovered Heinrich’s collection of child pornography from a computer and from three-ring binders. That discovery led to Heinrich’s arrest and charging on 25 counts of child pornography offenses.

The memo filed Wednesday was a response to a defense motion to move the location of the trial and suppress evidence. Heinrich’s trial is scheduled to begin July 11 in Minneapolis.