Twenty-seven years of investigative files into the kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling will become public on Thursday at 10:06 a.m.
Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson will make a presentation on the key elements of the case and take questions at that time. Thumb drives including the presentation and the files will be available.
Nearly 57,000 pages of documents comprise the files.
Over the past year, the Wetterling family lost a court battle to keep 168 pages sealed, claiming the information in those documents was highly private, gathered by law enforcement that was with the family around the clock in the days following the October 1989 kidnapping of 11-year-old Jacob.
Investigative files are open and public once a case is closed. As victims of the crime, however, the family was allowed to see the files first.
Jacob Wetterling was abducted by a masked man with a gun as he and his brother and a friend headed home from a convenience store in St. Joseph, Minn. on an October night in 1989. His fate was one of Minnesota's most haunting mysteries until Danny Heinrich confessed in the summer of 2016 to abducting and killing the boy and directing law enforcement to his body.
Heinrich, a child pornographer, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. But his conviction didn't answer the question of how the case remained unsolved for nearly three decades after Heinrich had spoken to police and had been under suspicion in the weeks following the kidnapping.
The news release announcing the opening of the files noted that "limited redactions as allowed and required by Minnesota law have been made."
What won't be in the file are FBI materials that were returned to the federal agency. Obtaining access those documents is a separate effort.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson