Jail audio: Heinrich admits to killing Wetterling, says he's not a ‘monster'

Newly released audio of a jail phone call reveals Danny Heinrich admitting to killing Jacob Wetterling, but saying he is not a “monster.”

In making evidence in the Jacob Wetterling case public in September, Stearns County investigators focused on the roughly 42,000 pages of documents. However, the case file included much more, including audio tapes of phone calls Heinrich made from jail, and video of police searching Heinrich's Annandale home.

The file contains audio of a phone call Heinrich made from jail to his brother, David. The call happened in October of 2016, two months after Heinrich confessed to killing Wetterling. It’s the first time we hear Heinrich's notorious 'gravelly' voice, as he talks with his brother about the plea deal and why he is not a monster. Here are some of the most startling statements Heinrich made in that call:

“People pissed that I didn't get charged with murder. I got charged with one count of child pornography that's what a lot of people are pissed off about.”

“That's the deal I made. I didn't have to confess to this. They didn't have s--- on me as far as Wetterling goes, until I confessed. They would've never known boo if I hadn't said anything.”

“I was a monster back then, but I stopped. I haven't had no sexual contact with anybody, David, since that night. With nobody."

“If I was a monster, David, I wouldn't have stopped 27 - I stopped 27 years ago. I haven't touched anybody since that f----- night. Monsters don't stop, they keep going.”

“I got home that night, David, and I’m going to tell you the truth, and I cried, ‘My God, what have I done?’”

Heinrich also admitted to being involved in some, but not all the sexual assaults of young boys in the Paynesville area in the year leading up to Wetterling's kidnapping. 

Investigators searched Heinrich’s home in July of 2015 after getting a search warrant based on old evidence in the case. The video for the most part showed a tidy, orderly home. However, detectives found 19 three-ring binders containing more than one hundred images of child pornography. The discovery was an important break in the case because it gave prosecutors the leverage they needed as Heinrich was looking at decades in prison.  

During the search, detectives spent a great deal of time in Heinrich's basement. We now know Heinrich later confessed to burying Wetterling outside of Paynesville. 

The FBI still has 13,000 pages of documents in this case. There is no word on when those will be released. 

Heinrich is currently serving a 20-year sentence for child pornography in a federal prison in Massachusetts. He is scheduled to be released in 2033, when he will be 70 years old. Heinrich says he won't return to Minnesota when he gets out, for fear he will be locked up indefinitely under a civil commitment, as a sexual predator.