Sunday 25 September 2016

'I panicked' - man admits abducting and killing 11-year-old boy 26 years ago

Jacob Wetterling's remains were found last week

Timothy Mclaughlin

Published 06/09/2016 | 21:52

Daniel Heinrich
Daniel Heinrich

A Minnesota man who had been considered a "person of interest" admitted in court on Tuesday to the 1989 abduction and killing of an 11-year-old boy whose remains he helped lead police to last week, authorities said.

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Danny Heinrich, 53, said he kidnapped, sexually assaulted and fatally shot Jacob Wetterling, who was riding his bike on a rural Minnesota road with his brother and friend when he was abducted in October 1989 in a case that shook the U.S. Midwestern state.

Jacob Wetterling
Jacob Wetterling

Heinrich "is the confessed murderer of Jacob Wetterling, and nearly 27 years after he committed this heinous crime, he has been brought to justice. And Jacob is finally home," Andrew Luger, U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota, said in a statement.

Read More: Remains of boy (11) missing for last 26 years finally found

A bouquet of flowers is placed at the end of Jerry and Patty Wetterling's driveway as news has come out that the search for Jacob Wetterling may be over, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 3, 2016, in St. Joseph, Minn. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and other officials are offering support to the family of Jacob Wetterling after his mother said the remains of the boy missing for nearly 27 years have been found
A bouquet of flowers is placed at the end of Jerry and Patty Wetterling's driveway as news has come out that the search for Jacob Wetterling may be over, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 3, 2016, in St. Joseph, Minn. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and other officials are offering support to the family of Jacob Wetterling after his mother said the remains of the boy missing for nearly 27 years have been found

Last October, authorities named Heinrich a person of interest in the case, given the similarities between Wetterling's abduction and a number of unsolved sexual assaults in central Minnesota dating to the 1980s.

Wetterling's parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling, became advocates for missing children after his disappearance.

Heinrich, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, detailed the abduction and killing of Wetterling in court on Tuesday.

"I panicked. I pulled the revolver out of my pocket ... I loaded it with two rounds. I told Jacob to turn around," the Minneapolis Star Tribune quoted Heinrich as telling the court.

A white ribbon with a large J hangs on a post along Minnesota Street as residents there await confirmation that remains found belong to 1989 abduction victim Jacob Wetterling, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, in St. Joseph, Minn. The Stearns County Sheriff's Office says in a statement that Jacob's remains were identified on Saturday. Jacob was 11 when he was kidnapped from a rural road on Oct. 22, 1989, near his home in St. Joseph, about 80 miles northwest of Minneapolis. (Kimm Anderson/St. Cloud Times via AP)
A white ribbon with a large J hangs on a post along Minnesota Street as residents there await confirmation that remains found belong to 1989 abduction victim Jacob Wetterling, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, in St. Joseph, Minn. The Stearns County Sheriff's Office says in a statement that Jacob's remains were identified on Saturday. Jacob was 11 when he was kidnapped from a rural road on Oct. 22, 1989, near his home in St. Joseph, about 80 miles northwest of Minneapolis. (Kimm Anderson/St. Cloud Times via AP)

"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."

"I raised the revolver again and shot him again."

Authorities searched Heinrich's home in July 2015, finding child pornography in three-ring binders and on a computer hard drive. They also found dozens of videotapes Heinrich appeared to have filmed of young boys delivering newspapers, playing or riding bicycles, officials said, but Wetterling's picture was not among them.

Heinrich also pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges on Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department said.

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