WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- Just a bit shy of 27 years Jacob Wetterlingís remains were found last Friday in a makeshift grave on the outskirts of Paynesville. For the past 27 years I like most Minnesotans have wondered what happened to Jacob? The Wetterlings were relentless in keeping their sonís abduction alive for all of the past 27 years.
They had a profound impact on how law enforcement and the media now treat child abductions. If this were to have happened today, Jacob might still have been alive. The way childhood abductions are treated today, along with modern forensics, children who are abducted today have a far better chance of being found much more quickly due to the work of the Wetterling Foundation along with Amber alerts that often result in children being found within hours of their abduction.
In Jacobís case it was a parents worse nightmare, I canít imagine the torment that the Wetterlings had lived with for all of the nearly 27 years of not knowing whether or not their son was alive or not. Of course we know the Wetterlings never gave up hope that he was still alive. So when his remains were found it had to be a bitter sweet moment for them, as well as those of us Minnesotans who most felt some sort of kinship to Jacob and his family.
I know there are many people that face unimaginable turmoil, when given a terminal diagnosis from their doctor that their child in all probability is going to die. Although that is really not the same as having your child abducted, because you donít know whether or not your child is even alive.
Jacobís confessed killer Danny Heinrich must have been a very disturbed man to do what he did to Jacob. Heinrich must have kept his deed a total secret for all of those years. Long story short, Heinrich accepted a plea agreement on 25 charges of possession of child pornography in exchange for admitting he killed Wetterling and disclosing the location of his remains. In exchange he will likely receive a 20 year maximum sentence on one count of child pornography.
From most of our perspective we feel the sentence falls far short of what we feel he should get. But it is understandable that the Wetterlings signed off on the agreement. Investigators felt that this would have been the only realistic opportunity to find Jacobís remains. In that regard, I fully understand why they went along with it. In 27 years the Wetterlings have grown older as we all have. For me if I hadnít found out what happened to Jacob before I died it wouldnít have made that much difference. But if I were in their shoes I would hate to have gone to my grave without knowing what happened to Jacob.
Jacobís life was not lost in vain, because of his abduction and death, abducted children everywhere have a much better chance of being found much more quickly.
We all should pray for the Wetterlings and all people that have missing children that they might be found safely.
Have a great week and do good!
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