Person of Interest Named in 1989 Child Abduction

He was arrested on unrelated child pornography charges
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2015 5:40 PM CDT
Person of Interest Named in 1989 Child Abduction
Daniel Heinrich was arrested on child pornography charges Wednesday. The FBI says Heinrich is a person of interest in the 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling.   (AP Photo/Sherburne County Sheriff's Office,HO)

For the first time since an 11-year-old boy was abducted in Minnesota almost exactly 26 years ago, authorities have identified a person of interest in his disappearance, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Jacob Wetterling was riding his bike to rent a video with his brother and a friend on Oct. 22, 1989 when they were confronted by a masked man with a gun. He had them lie in a ditch, asked their ages, then had the other two run into the woods. Jacob was never seen again. On Thursday, authorities announced the arrest of 52-year-old Danny Heinrich on unrelated child pornography charges. They believe it's possible he had something to do with Jacob's abduction, though he denies it.

The AP reports new forensic techniques allowed authorities to match Heinrich's DNA to DNA found on clothing worn by a young boy who was sexually assaulted in the same year and county as Jacob's disappearance. They used that to get a search warrant for Heinrich's property in July to look for human remains and Jacob's clothing. According to the Star Tribune, that search didn't turn up anything connected to Jacob. But police did find three binders of pictures of naked boys and videos of boys delivering newspapers and riding bikes that allegedly belonged to Heinrich, the AP reports. According to the Star Tribune, Heinrich was actually questioned twice following Jacob's abduction, and tire marks and footprints from the scene were similar to his. Multiple boys have been assaulted in the area where he lives. (More missing child stories.)

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