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Sheriff faults investigation into 1989 Wetterling abduction

ST. CLOUD — A Minnesota sheriff said opportunities were missed early on to catch the man who kidnapped and killed 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling in 1989.

Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson said Thursday that the investigation “went off the rails” decades before the suspect was finally caught.

Danny Heinrich confessed to killing Jacob and led investigators to his remains in 2016. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for child pornography.

The sheriff revealed that Heinrich was arrested at a bar in Roscoe in February 1990, a few months after Jacob was kidnapped. But Gudmundson said inexperienced FBI profilers concluded after an interrogation that Heinrich did not abduct Jacob.

Former FBI agent Al Garber called the analysis unfair.

The sheriff spoke before releasing investigative documents that Jacob’s parents had fought to keep private.