MINNESOTA — A Minnesota man who kidnapped, sexually assaulted and killed 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling 27 years ago says he’s “truly sorry” for his “evil acts.”
Fifty-three-year-old Danny Heinrich led authorities to Jacob’s remains this summer as part of a plea bargain. In return, prosecutors agreed not to charge him with murder.
Standing in federal court on Monday, the Annandale man admitted he had committed a heinous and unforgivable act, and apologized to the Wetterling family for what he took away from them.
U.S. District John Tunheim sentenced Heinrich to 20 years in prison, the maximum allowed on the child porn count, but said he doubts society will ever let Heinrich go free.
Authorities can seek to have Heinrich civilly committed as a dangerous sex offender when he completes his prison sentence.
Jacob was abducted near his home in the central Minnesota community of St. Joseph on Oct. 22, 1989. Heinrich was arrested on child pornography charges last year but kept Jacob’s fate secret until this summer.
The mother of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling tells her son’s killer he didn’t need to hurt him.
Patty Wetterling and other members of her family spoke in federal court in Minneapolis on Monday before Heinrich was sentenced.
When he confessed in court in September, Heinrich quoted a handcuffed Jacob as saying, “What did I do wrong?”
Patty Wettterling told Heinrich that Jacob “did nothing wrong. He just wanted to go home.”
She told her son’s killer she won’t “waste a minute of time” thinking about him “from this day forward.”‘