In chilling and heartbreaking testimony, the man who kidnapped and killed Jacob Wetterling described in court yesterday the 11-year-old boy’s last hours in Minnesota 27 years ago, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Danny Heinrich, who said he was armed and wore a mask, said Jacob had one question for him after he abducted him, handcuffed him behind his back, and forced him into a car on a rural road near the boy’s home on Oct. 22, 1989: “What did I do wrong?” Henrich, 53, calmly described the long-unsolved crime in horrific detail. He said he forced Jacob to undress and then sexually assaulted the boy. He said Jacob cried after the assault. Heinrich said he panicked after a police car drove by and that he shot Jacob twice in the head. He said he left Jacob’s body at the scene, came back an hour later and buried it.
Heinrich’s confession came as part of a plea agreement made by prosecutors and agreed to by Wetterling’s parents. Heinrich, who had been charged with 25 counts of child pornography, pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography. He faces a federal prison sentence of 20 years and a possible civil commitment after that. In return for leading authorities to Jacob’s body and admitting to abducting, sexually assaulting and killing Jacob, Heinrich will not be charged with Jacob’s murder. “Finally we know. We know what the Wetterling family and all of Minnesota have longed to know since that awful night in 1989,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. “We know the truth. Danny Heinrich … is the confessed murderer of Jacob Wetterling.” Heinrich will be sentenced Nov. 21 by U.S. District Judge John Tunheim. As part of his plea, Heinrich has acknowledged that he could be civilly committed as a sex offender, perhaps indefinitely, after he serves his criminal sentence.