Mom of slain Minn. boy: "We need to build a world where children are not afraid"

Jacob Wetterling

Wetterling Family

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jacob Wetterling’s parents say they’re still fighting for a world where children can grow up safe and follow their dreams.

Patty and Jerry Wetterling released a short video Tuesday saying they drew strength from the love and support of so many people in the search for Jacob, who was kidnapped near their St. Joseph, Minnesota, home in 1989. The two have become national advocates for missing and exploited children in the years since their son’s disappearance.

An Annandale man, Danny Heinrich, recently led authorities to Jacob’s remains and confessed that he kidnapped, sexually assaulted and killed the 11-year-old.

“After such a long time, the suddeness of the answer, the horiffic last minutes or hour of Jacob’s life and the finality of his death, have been so very hard for us to process,” Patty Wetterling said in the video.

Jerry and Patty Wetterling Speak About Their Son Jacob by Gundersen Health System on YouTube

Jerry Wetterling said the devastating news of his son’s death made it hard to sleep, eat, work, or think. But he said the family wanted to honor the boy and find a way to strengthen his hope for a safer world for children.

“Jacob believed in a world where children have the right to grow up safe and follow their dreams,” Patty Wetterling said. “That’s what we’re fighting for.”

Patty Wetterling said “we need to build a world where children are not afraid.”  

In the video, the Wetterlings encourage people to join the #11forJacob movement – named after Jacob’s No. 11 sports jersey. They also encourage people to live by 11 simple traits he valued: be kind, understanding, honest, thankful, a good sport, a good friend, joyful, generous, gentle with others and positive.