Mom Waits for Her Abducted Son for 26 Years
Posted by GreaterGoodness
When would you stop grieving the loss of a child? After a year? After 10 years? Never? One family from Minnesota is still holding out hope that their son, Jacob, might still come back 26 years after he was kidnapped. This year, the family celebrated Jacob’s 38th birthday, lighting the candles on his cake and blowing them out for him in his absence. Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped in October 1989 in the small town of St. Joseph, Minnesota.
Jacob, who was 11 at the time, was riding his bike with his brother and some friends when a gunman accosted the boys. He made them get off their bikes, then told the other boys to run away. He chose Jacob from among the boys and kidnapped him.
Police were unable to make any headway in the Wetterling case. Jacob’s parents, Jerry and Patty Wetterling, poured their passion into forming an advocacy group, which they named the Jacob Wetterling Foundation.
Several years after Jacob’s kidnapping, the Wetterlings also helped to get the Jacob Wetterling Act passed. This law, which instituted a statewide sex-offender registry in Minnesota, was the first law of its type. It paved the way for the well-known Megan’s Law a few years later. Patty Wetterling also works as a board member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Patty Wetterling was also instrumental in founding the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, which is part of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University in Minnesota. The center focuses on teaching kids and families about personal and online safety, with a special emphasis on safety from sexual offenders. It also provides victim assistance to missing youth and adults and their families, as well as to victims of child abuse.
Over the decades since Jacob’s abduction, police investigators have continued the search for the kidnapper. In recent years, investigators began to tie together incidents of alleged molestation of young teen or preteen boys in nearby towns. In October 2015, the police arrested a suspect in Jacob’s disappearance. Although the police questioned him soon after the kidnapping, he was never charged. However, his DNA was tied to another local abduction that happened a few months before Jacob’s, which opened the investigation back up. He is currently facing charges of possessing child pornography and is being investigated again in Jacob’s case.
For Jacob’s 38th birthday, Patty fixed his favorite food, steak, as she always does. The entire family gathered to celebrate and remember.
This year, Patty wrote an emotionally powerful letter. In it, she talked about watching the videotape from Jacob’s 11th birthday party over and over that shows Jacob playing with his brother in a local pool. She told Jacob how people in their community had been praying for his safety for 26 years. She also let him know of the new developments in his case, pointing out that his abduction was still in the news 26 years later because people still care about him.
In her letter, which the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center published online, Patty also restated her devotion to preventing abduction and sexual exploitation and on searching for those who have been abducted. She promised him she would never stop looking for him.
Wetterling believes Jacob’s case will eventually be solved. In the meantime, she hopes her letter to Jason helps boost support for organizations that support children.
Patty Wetterling’s story is a heart-wrenching one, but it’s also a story of courage and perseverance. As such, it’s an inspiration to others to take the steps needed to protect the weakest in the community, even if those steps are costly.
Click here to read other inspiring stories about people who have made courageous choices.