The 53-year-old man who confessed to abducting and murdering 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling won’t face charges in his murder.
Danny Heinrich confessed to abducting, sexually assaulting and killing Jacob in exchange for a plea deal. He won’t face any charges in the boy’s death.
Instead, prosecutors charged Heinrich with multiple counts of possession of child p0rnography.
Heinrich appeared in federal court in Minneapolis on Tuesday. Also in the courtroom were Jacob’s parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling.
Heinrich was asked if he abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered Jacob.
“Yes I did,” he responded.
“I was driving on a dead-end road” outside St. Joseph on the evening of Oct. 22, 1989 when he saw three young boys on their bikes with a flashlight, he said.
Heinrich admitted ordering the three boys off their bikes and forcing them to lie face down on the ground. After asking their ages, he told Jacob’s 10-year-old brother, Trevor, and 11-year-old friend, Aaron, to run into the woods.
Heinrich said he handcuffed Jacob, who asked him, “What did I do wrong?”
He told Jacob to duck down in the front passenger seat after hearing about Jacob’s abduction on a police scanner in his car.
He said he drove Jacob to a gravel pit and sexually assaulted him.
“I’m cold,” Jacob told him afterwards.
Heinrich told Jacob he could get dressed and he would take him part of the way home. He said he shot Jacob when the boy started to cry.
“I panicked. I pulled the revolver out of my pocket. I loaded it with two rounds. I told Jacob to turn around,” Heinrich said.
“I told him I had to go to the bathroom,” Heinrich said. “I raised the revolver to his head. I turned my head and it clicked once. I pulled the trigger again and it went off. Looked back, he was still standing.
“I raised the revolver again and shot him again.”
He left the body in the gravel pit and returned the next day with a Bobcat backhoe to dig a hole.
Heinrich said he returned to the site a year later and noticed part of the boy’s jacket sticking out of the ground.
He dug up the remains and buried the body on a farm just outside Paynesville, Minnesota.
That’s where FBI investigators found Jacob’s remains last week after Heinrich confessed.
He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the 25 p0rnography counts.
The other charges were dismissed in exchange for his plea and confession.