Jacob Wetterling

Jacob's Story

The Jacob Wetterling Foundation was established Jan. 22, 1990, four months after 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted near his home in St. Joseph, Minn.

Jacob was born Feb. 17, 1978. He grew up in St. Joseph, Minn. with his parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling, and his three siblings. On the evening of Oct. 22, 1989, Jacob, his brother Trevor and friend Aaron rode their bikes to a local convenience store to pick up a movie and snack. On the way back home, a man wearing a mask and carrying a gun stopped the boys. The gunman told the boys to throw their bikes into a nearby ditch and lie face down on the ground. He then asked each of the boys their age. After the boys responded, he instructed Trevor to run into the woods and told him not to look back or he would shoot him. Next, the gunman turned Aaron over, looked into his face, and told him to run into woods without looking back or he would shoot him. As Trevor and Aaron were running away, they glanced back to see the gunman grab Jacob's arm. When Aaron and Trevor reached the wooded area they turned around again and the gunman and Jacob were gone.

The local police were called to the scene of the abduction only minutes later and a search ensued that involved hundreds of volunteers, local law enforcement, FBI agents and others. Jacob's case has resulted in over 50,000 leads and has been studied by staff and trainees at the FBI academy in Quantico, Va. The case is highly unusual in a number of ways. Rarely are children abducted, especially by non-family members or while playing in groups. There are only 115 cases of long-term, non-family abduction called stereotypical kidnappings each year.

To date, law enforcement and Jacob's family still do not know what happened to Jacob or his abductor or where they are now. Above is an image of Jacob shortly before the abduction and to the right is his age progressed photo as to what he may look like now.

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