St. Joseph, Minn. community grieves for Jacob, Wetterling family

The emotion sensed across St. Joseph, Minn. Tuesday following Danny Heinrich’s confession to the murder of Jacob Wetterling is one family friends sum up simply.

“Sadness. Just total sadness,” Orrin Davis, a St. Joseph resident, said. 

Orrin and his wife Marian welcomed an interview outside of Kay’s Kitchen in St. Joseph. It’s where the couple decided dinner to take a break from the news.

“It’s just really tough,” Marian told Fox 9. 

“I don’t know of anything that could be more difficult to deal with. I just admire them for how they’ve dealt with it the past 20 some years. It’s unbelievable,” Orrin said. 

“I’ve had them on my mind all weekend knowing things were happening we didn’t know about,” Marian said.

After decades of suspicion, Heinrich was finally revealed to be the person behind the horror. 

Tuesday, inside a federal courthouse, in front of the Wetterlings and the world, Heinrich admitted he indeed kidnapped, sexually assaulted, shot and killed 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling on October 22, 1989.

“Very hard, very difficult,” said Kim Hulsebus, who’s new to St. Joseph, but still touched by the Wetterling’s story.

“I always leave my night light on for [Jacob],” Hulsebus’ nine-year-old son, Noah, said. 

The grief led some to leave bouquets for Jacob’s father in front of his chiropractic office not far from St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Fresh cut flowers were also left on the 91st Avenue corn field where Jacob was abducted nearly 27 years ago.

“It’s been very somber,” Hulsebus said of the sentiment expressed by many in town.

As friends of the Wetterlings, the Davises make sure to reflect on what Jacob’s hope and Patty Wetterling’s strength have inspired.

“Just a few weeks ago, we had an amber alert on our phones and it brings to mind all that she has done and was possible and they found that child rather rapidly, really.” Marian said.

Whether you personally know the Wetterlings or not, the memory of Jacob Wetterling will live on in the hearts of so many.

“We’ll continue to be friends and love them forever,” Orrin said.