Minnesota man admits abducting, killing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling nearly 27 years ago

Jacob Wetterling

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man has confessed to kidnapping and killing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling nearly 27 years ago.

Danny Heinrich, 53, made the admission Tuesday afternoon as he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in federal court in Minneapolis.

Heinrich led authorities to Jacob’s remains last week, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing case.

He admitted to donning a mask and confronting three children with a revolver near Jacob’s central Minnesota home. He says he took Jacob, handcuffed him and  sexually assaulted him in a grove of trees on Oct. 22, 1989. Afterward, he shot Jacob and later buried him in a gravel pit, and reburied him a year later.

Authorities named Heinrich as a person of interest last October when they announced the child pornography charges.

A plea deal for Heinrich calls for no charges in the boy’s death.

Heinrich faces the statutory maximum of 20 years on the child pornography count, though Judge John Tunheim will decide his sentence. Heinrich could also be civilly committed to the state’s sexual offender program after his prison sentence ends.