Killer's Confession in 1989 Murder Reveals Gruesome Details in 11-Year-Old Boy's Death
The 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling from rural Minnesota began a decades-long mystery that Danny Heinrich has finally put to an end.
Wetterling hasn't been seen since he was abducted while riding his bike with several friends in Stearns County in October of that year.
Heinrich's disappearance had remained unresolved until last week, when Heinrich led police to the isolated spot where he buried Wetterling's body after molesting him and fatally shooting him.
In exchange for closing the book on years of tears and speculation for the Wetterling family and the Stearns County community as a whole, Heinrich will not face charges in Jacob's murder.
However, before the boy's family could finally begin to heal, Heinrich revealed the full breadth of the suffering he forced the boy to endure on October 22, 1989.
After coming across Jacob, his younger brother, and another boy on their bikes that evening, Heinrich ordered the other children to flee, he told a federal courtroom in Minneapolis Tuesday.
He said he took Jacob into his car, handcuffed him and drove to a gravel pit. There, Heinrich said he forced the boy to perform a sex act on him.
When Jacob said "I'm cold," Heinrich said panic took over, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
"I pulled the revolver out of my pocket... I loaded it with two rounds. I told Jacob to turn around... I told him I had to go to the bathroom," Heinrich said. "I raised the revolver to his head. I turned my head and it clicked once. I pulled the trigger again and it went off. Looked back, he was still standing."
Heinrich said he shot the boy again, killing him, before burying his remains in a farm in Paynesville.
Last week, police were led to the bones believed to be Jacob's, as well as other items, at the farm.
Heinrich was questioned in the investigation in December 1989. At the time, Heinrich told investigators he could not recall where he was the day Jacob vanished, WTSP reports.
Fast forward to July 2015 when authorities were issued a warrant to search Heinrich's home after police say DNA evidence linked him to the sexual assault of a 12-year-old boy in the area 10 months prior to Jacob's disappearance.
Inside Heinrich's home, cops say they found child pornography along with news reports about the Jacob Wetterling case.
While the statute of limitations on the sexual assault has run out, Heinrich was arrested last October on alleged possession of child pornography and named a person of interest in Jacob's abduction for the first time.
Heinrich agreed to enter a guilty plea on charges related to possession of child pornography as part of his deal.
Heinrich faces a maximum of 20 years on the child pornography count, though Judge John Tunheim will decide his sentence, AP reports. Heinrich could also be civilly committed to the state's sexual offender program after his prison sentence ends.