ST. JOSEPH, Minn. -- Thousands of people across Minnesota are remembering the life of Jacob Wetterling by leaving on an outside light.
For 27 years, his family held out hope the abducted boy would somehow find his way home, but it wasn’t to be.
Jacob was a typical Minnesota kid. The 11-year-old loved hockey and spending time with his family.
On the night of October 22, 1989, Jacob, his brother, and friend Aaron Larson biked to a convenience store. On the way home, a masked gunman approached the boys and abducted Jacob, letting the other two boys go.
“He grabbed Jacob and then he told me to run as fast as I could into the woods or else he’d shoot,” Larson said at the time.
Last week, 53-year-old Daniel Heinrich told the FBI whereas part of an ongoing plea agreement.
David Unze, a reporter with the St. Cloud Times, said he thought the case would never be solved.
“Names have come and gone in between the time of the abduction and where we are today, such that there were other people who looked like they were good suspects,” Unze said.
Court documents show authorities interviewed Heinrich at least three times beginning just months after the abduction.
Tire marks from his car were also consistent with those at the crime scene. He was never charged.
Jared Scheierl wasnine months before Jacob disappeared. Last year authorities found DNA on the sweatshirt Scheierl wore that day, which led them back to Heinrich.
“They said ‘the good news is we have your guy, the bad news is statutes of limitations exist in your case and we cannot prosecute him,’” Scheierl said.
When investigators searched Heinrich’s home again, they discovered child pornography.
Scheierl’s attack was preceded by assaults on eight boys in Paynesville, Minnesota in 1986 and 1987.
Troy Cole, one of those victims, said he gave a statement to city police but never heard back from anybody.
“There’s only one unanswered question now that I want to know is why didn’t they do anything about it?”
Both Cole and Scheierl now wonder if Jacob would have been abducted if their cases had been solved.