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Annandale man arrested for child pornography is a ‘person of interest’ in Jacob Wetterling abduction

Law-enforcement officials say that DNA evidence links the arrested man to the abduction of another young boy in 1989, around the same time Wetterling was abducted near St. Joseph.

Jacob Wetterling was 11 at the time of his abduction.

An Annandale man arrested for child pornography is a “person of interest” in the abduction of Jacob Wetterling in 1989.

Police arrested Danny James Heinrich, 52, Wednesday night on the child pornography charges, and they say that they have DNA linking him to the sexual assault of a boy in 1989, the same year Wetterling was abducted near near his St. Joseph home.

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Heinrich has not been charged in the sexual assault where DNA was found because the statute of limitations has expired, officials said.

Jacob Wetterling was 11 at the time of his abduction; his parents have become national advocates and are credited with helping change laws and increasing public perception about child abductions.

Heinrich has not been charged in the Wetterling case, although officials called him a person of interest in that case. Heinrich was interviewed by police when Jacob disappeared, and again in 1990, and has said he was not involved.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, along with FBI agents, the head of the Minnesota BCA and the Stearns County Sheriff held a news conference at 2 p.m. today to discuss Heinrich.

Afterwards, the Wetterling family issued a statement:

The Wetterling family would like to thank all involved in the investigation of Danny Heinrich and his crimes against children. The search for Jacob is an ongoing investigation, and we will watch and learn with everyone else. Right now we know what is being reported. We know what you all know.

For 26 long years, we have said that somebody knows something. If you know anything about this man, his ties to St. Joseph in 1989 and his victimization of children or since, please call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department at 320-259-3700 or 320-656-6625. …

We also need to point out the obvious. Child pornography is a devastating, harmful criminal activity. … Today we ask for a little time. We will be available for comment next week but ask for some space at this point in time. We have no further comment.