LIVE: The Jacob Wetterling Documentary
The case that changed childhood forever in our region.
If you’re under 40 and in the upper Midwest, you probably can’t imagine a time before Jacob Wetterling.
But no matter how old you are, almost everyone here has felt the reverberations of shock, horror, and fear that went through Minnesota and North Dakota when the 11-year-old boy disappeared, snatched by a stranger at gunpoint, while he and some friends were riding their bikes home one evening in St. Joseph, Minn.
That was in 1989.
His parents, Patty and Jerry, would struggle for the next 27 years with no answers, and the region would struggle with them.
The case left lasting scars on the psyche of many families in the region, some of whom had kids around Jacob’s age, and who had allowed their children to bike home at night too without considering the possibility of a stranger abduction.
Documentary filmmaker Chris Newberry was one of those kids.
“Now, I can’t imagine my kids doing that,” he said.
Newberry is at work on a new documentary that explores how parenting and childhoods changed after Jacob’s disappearance, and how the parents weathered almost three decades of grief suspended in uncertainty.
He sat down live in studio with the Morning Show’s Emily Welker to talk about the Wetterlings’ case, the lives in the ensuing decades, and how they kept hope alive — hope both that their child’s case would be solved, and hope now for the future and the world children will grow up in, going forward.
Jacob’s body was finally found in 2016, when a person of interest in another child abduction case gave police the information they needed.
That person, Danny Heinrich, confessed to Jacob’s murder, and ultimately pleaded guilty in a plea deal to federal child pornography possession charges, for which he is serving a 20-year term.
You can help bring Newberry’s documentary to life, both by attending a fundraiser at a trailer launch party tonight, and by contributing on the documentary’s GoFundMe page.
Trailer Launch Party, Tuesday May 14th, 6-9 PM
764 34th Street North, Fargo