Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Sheriff outlines critical errors in Wetterling case

Plus: FBI agent fires back at criticism of Wetterling investigation; storm causes significant damage in SE Minnesota; state unemployment rate dropped to 2.9 percent; and more.

The GleanAt MPR Kirsti Marohn and Tim Nelson report, “Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson delivered a brutal assessment Thursday of the cascading errors and internal friction among law enforcement that let Jacob Wetterling’s killer stay free for decades even as the clues pointed overwhelmingly to Danny Heinrich. In sometimes heartbreaking detail, Gudmundson described multiple points early in the Wetterling investigation where it was clear Heinrich should have been the prime suspect, but that basic errors in policing allowed him to elude justice as key evidence and tips went unnoticed or unattended.”

A short Strib story by James Walsh says, “After the FBI took over the investigation within days of Jacob’s abduction, investigators followed thousands of erroneous and farfetched leads across the country rather than sufficiently focusing on compelling local evidence. … Despite the fact that Heinrich was an early suspect, there is no mention of him in the case files for more than 20 years.”

But there’s also this from Rochelle Olson: “The lead FBI agent on Jacob Wetterling’s kidnapping stood in the rain outside the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office Thursday fending off claims that his investigation squandered multiple opportunities to solve the haunting crime within months, if not days after it occurred. ‘If you want to hear me say we failed because we didn’t find Jacob alive, we failed,’ an exasperated Al Garber said at one point as reporters pressed him over and over about the investigation that stretched over three decades until Danny Heinrich confessed in the summer of 2016. Garber spoke to reporters after listening to a long critique from Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson that was a prelude to the release of thousands of pages of previously unseen investigative documents involving the highest-profile Minnesota crime mystery in decades.”

Article continues after advertisement

The Star Tribune’s Liz Sawyer and Karen Zamora report: “Residents of several counties south of the Twin Cities begin cleaning up late Thursday after fierce storms, including possible tornadoes, damaged structures and downed power lines and trees. In the metro area, heavy rain flooded some streets and creeks during the windy deluge, which swept eastward through the metro area and other parts of southern Minnesota Thursday. In parts of southeastern Minnesota, up to 4 inches of rain fell in a short period, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen ….”

In the Pioneer Press, Nick Woltman writes, “The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says it failed to provide an audio recording of a fatal law enforcement shooting to the Ramsey County attorney’s office, which was responsible for determining whether the officers involved would be charged with a crime. Darren Jahnke used his cellphone to record audio of his interaction with Ramsey County sheriff’s deputies in Vadnais Heights in April 2017, which ended with 47-year-old Jahnke being shot to death after he took a gun from one of the deputies during a scuffle, according to a news release issued Thursday by the BCA.”

Also at MPR, Brandt Williams says, “A Minneapolis man accused of abusing his developmentally disabled daughters may not be competent to stand trial. That’s according to the attorney representing Jerry Curry, 52, who is charged with eight felonies and one misdemeanor for offenses including rape, stalking and assault. The mother of Curry’s daughters, Shelia Wilson, 48, also faces multiple charges. Attorney William ‘Butch’ Selman stood next to Curry in court Thursday and told Hennepin County judge Fred Karasov he had concerns about his client’s ability to participate in his own defense.”

In the Strib, Evan Ramstad says, “Minnesota lost 200 jobs in August, breaking a streak of sizable gains that suggested that a labor market perceived to be at full employment had room left to grow. But even with the marginal decline in the number of people working, the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.9 percent, its first time under the 3 percent threshold since December 1999. Minnesota’s lowest unemployment rate was 2.5 percent, reached in January and February 1999.”

Kate Rooney for CNBC says, “Wells Fargo, the third-biggest U.S. bank, plans to lower its employee headcount by 5 percent to 10 percent in the next three years as part of its ongoing turnaround plan, the company announced Thursday. The bank has 265,000 employees, meaning the reduction would result in a loss of between 13,250 and 26,500 jobs. ‘We are continuing to transform Wells Fargo to deliver what customers want — including innovative, customer-friendly products and services — and evolving our business model to meet those needs in a more streamlined and efficient manner’, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Sloan said in a press release.”