Wetterling killer to be sentenced on child porn charge

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Wetterling killer to be sentenced on child porn charge

"He broke my heart, my soul and every fiber of my being when he murdered our Jacob", Jacob's mother, Patty Wetterling, said during the hearing, according to NBC station KARE in Minneapolis. "He did nothing wrong", Patty Wetterling told Heinrech at his sentencing.

"You didn't have to kill him", she said through tears.

She took some of her time to speak directly to Heinrich. "It's OK. It's all part of the life management skills that we have had to acquire like so many other victims of violence crimes".

Heinrich was allowed to make a statement before a judge handed him his sentence.

"The heinous acts, the selfishness are unforgivable for what I have taken away from you".

Heinrich shocked Minnesota on September 6 by confessing in court to sexually assaulting and shooting Jacob after snatching him at gunpoint while the 11-year-old rode his bike home from a convenience store with his brother, Trevor, 10, and Aaron Larson, 11, that October night in rural St. Joseph, Minnesota. After serving his prison sentence, Heinrich will be on supervised release for the rest of his life.

They found Heinrich's DNA on that boy's sweatshirt, and used that evidence to get a search warrant for Heinrich's home in Annandale, where they found his child pornography collection past year. "It's about taking a childhood away from Jared and taking a lifetime away from Jacob. Also for scaring parents everywhere".

Judge Tunheim told Heinrich, "I'm giving you the most severe punishment that is available to me". Authorities said they had long suspected a link between the two cases, leading them to circle back to Heinrich.

"I can say that this is just one more step in gaining closure to an incident in my life that has defined me in many ways", he said.

Aaron Larson, Jacob's best friend who was with him when the boy was abducted, spoke next. I was the coward that left my friend. "I was the coward that ran away". In return, prosecutors agreed not to charge him with murder.

"I hated it. I hated how I left him". I became the kid who was with Jacob. "For 20 years I lived with guilt".

Confronting Heinrich, Larson said he realized he "is just a man - an evil man who should be gone forever".

Danny Heinrich
Danny Heinrich

"Losing Jacob was hard enough", said his brother, Trevor. He had continuous nightmares, and was swallowed by an overwhelming survivor's guilt.

Next, Wetterling's parents faced their son's killer.

Authorities, searching for ties to Jacob's disappearance, found hundreds of photos and videos of young boys during a search of Heinrich's home in July 2015. Judge John Tunheim calls the killing of Jacob Wetterling as one of the most awful crimes he has seen.

Carmen described how it was hard to meet new friends because they would invariably ask, "How many siblings do you have?"

She ended with a simple, yet heartfelt statement: "I love you Jacob".

When he confessed in court in September, Heinrich quoted a handcuffed Jacob as saying, "What did I do wrong?"

Jacob's father Jerry Wetterling showed his depths of compassion, thanking law enforcement, and even Heinrich himself, for allowing the family to know what happened that night.

He closed by speaking of the ripple effect Jacob's abduction and murder had on the lives of thousands of people.

It is possible that after Danny Heinrich completes his 20-year sentence, he might be subject to civil commitment as a sex offender.

The courtroom confession came days after Heinrich led authorities to a rural pasture near Paynesville, where he had buried Jacob's remains some 30 miles from the abduction site.

Quotes from the day Danny Heinrich was sentenced to 20 years in prison for child pornography.

Jacob's kidnapping made national headlines over 25 years ago when he was abducted by a masked gunman while riding his bike with his brother and a friend in St. Joseph, Minnesota on October 22, 1989.

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