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Jacob: What happened?
Childhood friend still holds onto hope

By Scott Thoma

 

The mysterious disappearance of Jacob Wetterling following his abduction by a masked man brandishing a handgun occurred 25 years ago on Oct. 22.

Despite a nationwide manhunt by local and federal authorities, following over 50,000 tips, the abductor has yet to be identified.

But Aaron Larson, Jacob’s best friend at the time, and Patty Wetterling, Jacob’s mother, both recently revealed during separate interviews that they have a hunch that there will be an answer forthcoming in the near future.

“I was talking to my wife about it the other day,” said Larson, who along with Jacob’s younger brother Trevor, was at the scene of the abduction on the night on Oct. 22, 1989 in St. Joseph, eight miles west of St. Cloud. “I really think there is going to be an answer very soon. It’s just a hunch that I’ve had lately.”

Patty Wetterling, speaking by phone from her vehicle last Friday afternoon, admitted to having a similar hunch.

“I’m confident we’re going to hear something very soon,” she said. “I really am. Someone knows something. I think we’re finally going to get some answers.”

Because the case is so familiar to most people in Minnesota, it’s hard to fathom that a quarter of a century has passed since the 11-year-old Wetterling was abducted.

“It’s unconscionable to me,” said Patty, when asked about the time frame since that night. “How can it be (25 years ago)?”

The Wetterlings have been bombarded with interview requests by media outlets as the anniversary date approached, yet Patty said she hasn’t been bothered by all the attention.

“Yeah, it’s been crazy and the phone has been ringing a lot lately,” she said. “But the positive thing is that people still remember Jacob and still have hope.”

Larson, too, finds it hard to imagine that 25 years has passed since his friend was taken.

“It’s hard to believe that many years have gone by,” said Larson, an insurance agent for Murrayland Agency in Tracy and Currie. “It’s a long time. I can’t say it feels like yesterday anymore, but it sure doesn’t seem like 25 years ago.”

For more on this article, see this week's Headlight-Herald.