Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped one faithful night in 1989 by a man holding a gun. The eleven year old was with a couple of friends, who had accompanied him to pick out a movie at the local video store, when they were ambushed, questioned and threatened by the abductor. The efforts to find him were fruitless. It would take 27 years to find out the truth behind his disappearance.
The podcast picks up the story a few months before there is a break in the case that leads to the discovery of Jacob’s remains. That October 22 night had been haunting the people of St John, Minnesota, and now they had an answer: Danny Heinrich had abducted, sexually assaulted and killed him within the first hour of his kidnapping. What makes this case unique is that the perpetrator was not a member of the community, and even if a sex offender registry had been in place back then, it would have not helped solve this crime.
The investigative team behind In the Dark came across files of other possible victims of the confessed killer. Kids in the town of Paynesville had reported being followed and/or assaulted by a guy in a blue car, a crucial piece of evidence that matched accounts of witnesses in Jacob’s case. Eventually, the deal reached with Heinrich included a confession about one previous abduction but his testimony led many to believe there would likely be more victims. Sadly, these would be denied justice as part of the deal included immunity from further prosecution for the now convicted killer.
In the Dark will return with an unrelated case for season 2. Download or listen to it via Radio Public and the apps listed on their website.