More than 26 years since the case was opened, a person of interest has been named in the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling, who was last seen riding his bike to rent a video with his brother and a friend Oct. 1989. It was then that a man whose face was obscured by a mask confronted them and asked them to lie in a ditch.
The two other boys were able to escape, running into the woods, but 11-year-old Jacob was never seen again.
Danny James Heinrich, 52, was arrested at his Annandale, Minnesota, home Wednesday for possession of child pornography, Minnesota news station KMSP reported. The search warrant was issued for a separate case regarding the kidnapping and sexual assault of a boy in the nearby Cold Spring, Minnesota, also in 1989, just months before Jacob went missing.
"As the result of the development of forensic technology which did not exist at the time evidence was collected, Danny Heinrich was determined to be the contributor of DNA on the clothing of the victim of the Cold Spring sexual assault," FBI agent Rick Thornton said.
The FBI said Heinrich was questioned in connection with Jacob's case, but required "closer scrutiny," according to Minnesota news station KMSP. Heinrich denies involvement.
Statement from Wetterling family. pic.twitter.com/Qe5eg1PIiF
— Ted Haller (@TedHallerFox9) October 29, 2015
FBI officials are also investigating any connection between Heinrich and the shoeprints and tire tracks near the site where Jacob went missing. Footprints from the scene are reportedly similar to those of Heinrich, the Star Tribune reported.
Just last week, Minnesotans were asked to leave their porch light on in memory of Jacob, radio station KDAL reported. The Wetterling family released a statement Thursday.
"The Wetterling family would like to thank all involved in the investigation of Danny Heinrich ... ," the statement said. "The search for Jacob is an ongoing investigation and we will watch and learn with everyone else. Right now we know what is being reported. We know what you all know."