A few months ago I wrote about the Jacob Wetterling and his impact on modern lifestyle in America. That article was brought on by the discovery of the killer of the eleven year old boy and of his body. Danny Heinrich, Jacob Wetterling’s killer, admit to killing the boy all the way back in 1989 and lead officers to where he buried him as part of plea deal. If Heinrich admit to what he did and put the twenty seven year murder case to bed then he wouldn’t be charged for it. This deal was approved by the Wetterling family. They didn’t want to see the killer pay as much as they wanted to sleep at night knowing that Jacob was resting safe and sound.
Despite the plea deal Heinrich was still being put on trial for something. That is to say he was being put on trial for what he was actually arrested for, which was possession of child pornography. I’m speaking in the past tense, because the trial in question took place on Monday November 21st. And even though it supposedly had nothing to do with Jacob, he kept coming up.
Spoiler alert. Heinrich was charged and will be spending the next twenty years in prison. Which considering his age and the fact that people who commit crimes against children don’t generally fare well in prison, might be the rest of his life. The entire Wetterling Family was present at the Heinrich's trial, along with Aaron Larson, Jacob's friend who was with him and his brother at the time of the kidnapping. They weren’t there to see the man who killed their family member and friend get convicted for something other his murder, actually no one in the court was, including it seems the Judge. They were there to say what needed to be said.
Heinrich’s victims a.k.a. Jacob Wetterling’s family, friends, and a few boys from nearby towns who were sexually assaulted around the time of Jacob Wetterling’s murder, which are believed now to be the work of Heinrich, were given forty five minutes to share what they had to say to the public, and to Heinrich. Aaron Larson and Trevor Wetterling, both of whom were with Jacob when they were initially confronted by Heinrich that fateful night, spoke about survivor's guilt. Larson especially felt as though he abandoned his friend when he should have turned back to help “I lived everyday thinking I was the monster that night, I was the coward that left my friend” he told the courtroom during his slot to speak. Trevor’s sentiments reflected the same. But the most heartbreaking statement by far came from Mrs. Wetterling. She cried as she talked about the twenty seven years of pain her family had to endure. The not knowing was only part of it, the pain of missing her son, the life that will never be lived, the missing space in her heart where her son should be. She then addressed her son’s murder directly. “You didn’t need to kill him, he did nothing wrong, he just wanted to go home.” In his confession Heinrich admit that he was fully intending to let Jacob go, until he heard police sirens nearby and panicked.
You’re not supposed to involve your emotions in informational media, but in this case I’ll make an acceptation. Mrs. Wetterling was right, Jacob didn’t need to die, it was an unnecessary act. Heinrich had done what he had done before, all the other poor boys Heinrich attacked survived and still he got away with his deeds for twenty seven years and would have continued to had he not been compelled to admit his guilt. Jacob was alive and well and deserved to stay that way. He deserves the justice he won’t get, and so do the other boys Heinrich hurt. But he has twenty years to sit in jail, not for the child porn, if the trial, if the sentence had been about child porn, Heinrich's victims wouldn’t have been allowed to speak. Whether the law wants to admit it or not Heinrich is sentenced for what he did to an eleven year old boy twenty seven years ago. And for that crime, I say good riddance.