Jacob Wetterling Abduction: A New Lead

A new lead is being pursued in the tragic child abduction case of Jacob Wetterling.

And it is due to the work of a writer and blogger named Joy Baker.

Case Background: Jacob Wetterling

Jacob Wetterling

In October of 1989, then 11-year-old Jacob, his brother, and a friend were bicycling home after renting a movie in St. Joseph, Minnesota. The boys were confronted by a masked gunman who ordered the kids off their bikes and onto the ground. He asked each of the boys their ages and looked at their faces. The man then ordered the friend and Jacob's brother to run to a nearby wooded lot, and not to look back or he would shoot. The two boys ran. 

Jacob Wetterling has not been seen since. 

Despite an intensive investigation into the kidnapping, the case has baffled investigators for years.

Joy Baker's Work
In 2010, freelance writer and Minnesotan Joy Baker began examining the Wetterling abduction.

She compiled an impressive collection of information about the case on her blog.

She also began asking questions regarding other attacks of young boys that occurred prior to Jacob's abduction. Attacks that had occurred in nearby towns in Minnesota. Attacks with similar details.

One such attack was against a victim named "Jared" who was 12 years old at the time (source is here).

Jared was walking home from ice skating when a man in a car stopped to ask him directions. The stranger then told Jared he had a gun, that he would shoot him unless he cooperated, and forced the boy into the backseat of the vehicle. The man then drove him to a separate location, and eventually let Jared go.

Like the Wetterling case, Jared's abductor was never caught.

Through her research in the case, Joy began working with Jared. She got the idea to start looking for similar attacks on children from that time period.

She researched the topic and found an 1987 article from nearby Paynesville, MN (about 30 miles from St. Joseph, MN). The article described 5 separate incidents of a man accosting young people in their community, and that police were asking for the public's assistance.

The attacker described in Paynesville had similarities to the man described in both Jacob and Jared's abductions.

Joy then summarized the cases with what was available, and plotted the attacks on a map (go here to see that). She forwarded the information to police, and detectives in several jurisdictions are now looking at the lead provided by Joy and Jared.


As I discussed in a post recently about an amateur Civil War enthusiast uncovering an answer to a historical mystery, there are regular people doing the extraordinary.

Alfred C. Young III, Joy Baker, and Jared are accomplishing things that were not thought possible.

Don't let it stop with these heroic people, challenge yourself to do something amazing.

For Jacob and his family.

For others.

There is lots of good to be done in this world of ours. ______________________________________________

Joy Baker's post on Jared's attack can be read here, and her full series on Jacob Wetterling is here.

You can read more of my Missing Person Monday posts by going here.   


Theresa Milstein said...

Impressive how one person can get the case moving again. All these missing people cases--how do the families find closure? Move on?

Bijoux said...

It's great that these citizens are attempting to solve crimes, but it sounds like what they are doing is what public taxpayers are paying police departments to do. So, why isn't this work, that's not exactly rocket science, being done by the detectives who are supposedly working on the case?

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Oh Joy sounds like a very special person. Hooray for people who take it upon themselves to care and make a difference.

Diane Estrella said...

So glad for her determination and passion in this case. If only we all had a small dose of that in our own lives...

messymimi said...

What's sad is that detectives on the police force or in the sheriff's department are so overwhelmed with cases that they often can't take the time to dig up stuff like this.

Pat Hatt said...

Awesome indeed, hopefully they can catch the guy finally too. A little initiative can go a long way

Stephanie Faris said...

In response to what Bijoux said above, I think many police departments are overwhelmed with cases...maybe they should move a few people off issuing speeding tickets and put them on these cold cases! What I don't get about this case, though, is that the guy told both friends to run to the woods. If the man had come after one of the boys and captured him, wouldn't the other friend have seen it? I don't get it.

Stephanie Faris said...

Never mind--I see now...the two boys ran and a third boy didn't.

Chrys Fey said...

That is amazing! Good job, Joy! We need more dedicated people like her to help with unsolved cases like this. I sure hope they can find the man!

Gail Dixon said...

The work of volunteers is a godsend to the police department I'd imagine. I know they are bombarded with cases. Hope they find Jacob soon.

Momma Fargo said...

Bravo,Joy! Thanks for sharing, Slam.

WomanHonorThyself said...

thank the Lord for the dedication of some !..thanks Slam for keeping us in the loop as well.
God bless you my friend:)

Brian Miller said...

i like the challenge in this...what if everyone followed those leadings to do something when they got the idea....very cool...

ladyfi said...

Impressive how the dedication of one person can make a difference.

Mary Kirkland said...

One person really can make a difference.

lisa said...

God bless those brave people who go the extra mile for others to get justice and/or closure. They are truly earth angels. This report is so disturbing. Have these things always happened at this rate, or are they getting more and more common? It's scary.

A Doc 2 Be said...

I remember when this happened, as if it were yesterday.

Chilling because back in 1989, there was no internet, there was no Fox News, and CNN was via high-priced cable only.

I hope they solve this case!!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This is what happens when we watch crime shows such as Criminal Minds. :)

Hopefully her work and interest in the cases helps the police crack them.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the comments all.

@Bijoux: Worthy question of authorities.

Without knowing anything going on behind the scenes, I have two points. Since law enforcement has always been performed independently (by thousands of police agencies), communication has always been an issue. Back in the 1980s when these attacks occurred, they would have been reliant upon the limited info that state and national databases could provide. Unless an investigator noticed attacks were similar to those in another jurisdiction, there was hardly anyway to know.

Second, authorities may have explored this lead to some extent already, they only release a small amount of information to the public. With any case, we never know what is contained in the investigative folder.

Again, great question and thanks for making us think.

@Lisa: Though it is difficult to compare traditional kidnapping numbers today versus decades ago, it appears that there are between 100-120 stereotypical child kidnappings in the US every year. It has evidently been consistent over the years, but obviously the media attention has changed drastically from then to now.

Miss Caitlin S. said...

Above all else, your blog always serves as a reminder to me that there are unsolved cases all over the world that I've never heard about. You always hear about a few a year but I'm fascinated/saddened to learn of so many others. Joy sounds like an amazing citizen and I hope this case gets closure. Please update us if it does as I know you'll keep track!! What a handsome boy, such a shame.

terri said...

I clearly remember the days following the Jacob Wetterling abduction. We were glued to the television, watching news stories, or scouring the papers in hopes that he would be found. As the weeks and months, then years went by with no break in the case, hopes were diminished. This was such a sad, tragic story and hit too close to home for all of us with young children.

During the years when I had a home daycare, I used to attend annual educational conferences. I remember one year Patty Wetterling was a speaker. She had become an advocate for child safety, and active in politics. I've always been impressed with how she used this horrific event in her life to try to help others. I (and many others) would love it if after all these years, the Wetterling family could find some kind of closure. Kudos to Joy Baker for digging in when it seems the officials had given up.

Anonymous said...

Send the police department an invoice. Invoice meaning the voice in you that let to a voice that now is an in voice into the abductions.
I still think you should receive some compensation. Maybe a part of each of those detectives salaries. It reminds me of looking for a job and learning all the openings. Then when a recruiter calls and asks you if you know a friend who may be qualified. Then you send them the name, and because of your leg work they reap the rewards. God sees your work.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if it is a requirement for Joy to report her findings to the Stearns County Sheriff Department? It says in the blog everything is turned over to them....but I'm very concerned about the Law Enforcement track record. At this point 25 years later, I would say report all information to someone or some group we can trust! To hand over to LE and pretend we did our duty isn't going to solve this case! Does anyone out there know the legal side of how information is handled?