Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

My reaction to developments in the Jacob Wetterling abduction October 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:53 PM
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ALL ACROSS MINNESOTA today, we are holding our collective breaths, hoping that news about a possible break in the 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling provides answers. Answers we’ve waited to get for 26 years.

An Annandale man, arrested for possession of child pornography, is now considered a “person of interest” in the October 22, 1989, abduction of 11-year-old Jacob near the Wetterlings’ St. Joseph home. He was questioned early on in the Wetterling case and several times thereafter.

Jacob’s abduction marked a change in parenting in Minnesota. I remember, as a young mother of two and three-year-old daughters, teaching my girls what to do in the event of a possible kidnapping. I didn’t want to scare them. Yet, because of what happened to Jacob, I felt compelled to educate my then preschoolers about stranger danger.

Rural Minnesota, especially, lost a bit of innocence on that October day when a masked man approached Jacob, his brother and a friend while they were riding bikes from a convenience store. The man disappeared with Jacob after threatening to shoot the other two.

It all seemed so random. A horrible crime in an ordinary place. Anytown in rural Minnesota. Jacob could have been our son, our nephew, our neighbor boy. He was the face of all Minnesota children. And his parents, especially Patty, were the faces we saw in the mirror. We feared this could happen to any of our families.

For 26 years, we have grieved and hoped and prayed with the Wetterlings. And maybe soon we will all have the answers we long for, that we need. Who took Jacob? Where is he? And why? Oh, why?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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18 Responses to “My reaction to developments in the Jacob Wetterling abduction”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    After reading a bit about this “person of interest”, I’m not sure I want to know anything about the ‘why’. Today’s technology has so many uses….good and bad, thankfully this was a very good use.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    I hope this case can finally be solved. There has been far too many years of not know. That is pure hell for the family.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Almost twenty years ago, while putting in a caffiened-fueled all-nighter at the Minneapolis Police Department, I ran into Bernie Martenson and Jodi Nelson from the Sex Crimes Unit. It was in the early hours of the morning and they were wearily pushing a four wheel cart down the hall.

    I asked what was in the cart.

    Bernie said, “Kiddy porn – and we have to watch every bit of it.”

  4. I had never heard of this case before seeing on the news yesterday however, in my defense I was only 9 years old when it happened. I hope this will result in some peace and closure for this little boys family. How heartbreaking! I can’t imagine not knowing what had happened to my loved one for that long.

  5. I hope this case can finally be solved – all the wondering, questioning and just the not knowing – I cannot imagine. I know a few people in law enforcement that are in charge of sex crimes against children as well as investigating and prosecuting child pornographers, human/sex traffickers of minors, etc. I do not know how they shut off what they see on a daily basis. I have wished for a very big bat a few times working in state service pertaining to the way people prey on each other – terrible!

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    Almost every week there is a child or young person abduction in our state. Some have good outcomes, but most do not. The world is a different place than it was for us growing up. I just can’t imagine raising kids in these times. And I can’t imagine how law enforcement and investigative agencies have kept up with the tremendous onslaught of sex crimes, pornography and human predation.

  7. I’ve followed this case from the very beginning.
    I am praying that he is still alive. He would be my
    son’s age now.
    It could have been any of our sons or daughters.
    I am praying this man knows something.
    And that his family can move forward.
    ( do we ever move forward?)

    xx love from Duluth.

  8. Sue Ready Says:

    Yes after this abduction we all lost some innocence thinking our children were safe playing outside without supervison. A sad commentary on life when we need to be so protective and vigilant today and even then doesn’t assure crimes won’t be committed.


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