In the Dark Podcast Transcript: Season 1, Episode 2

Sonix is an automated transcription service. We transcribe audio and video files for storytellers all over the world. We are not associated with the In the Dark podcast. Making transcripts available for listeners and those that are hearing-impaired is just something we like to do. If you are interested in automated transcription, click here for 30 free minutes.

To listen and watch the transcript playback in real-time ?, just click the player below.

In the Dark: S1 E2 The Circle

If this is your first time listening to In the Dark, stop, go back, and start at the first episode. It'll make a lot more sense. Last time on In the Dark.

Some of their boys went down to Tom Thumb to pick up a movie. And on their way back, someone stopped them.

When you ran, did you look back?

Yeah, once we got way down there.

What did you see?

Nothing. He wasn't there anymore.

The 11-year-old boy went missing in 1989, and it has been a mystery since.

Finally, we know. We know what the Wetterling family and all of Minnesota have longed to know since that awful night in 1989. We know the truth.

Are there things you would have done differently now looking back on it?

You always think about that, but no. I think, the people that worked on that case did truly 110% every day that we're there. And I don't know. I don't know that there's anything we could have done differently.

We're here today because of the perseverance of investigative team; the commitment to aggressively follow up on every single lead, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant; and the absolute belief that if we continue to press, we would eventually solve this case.

Listen. Can you hear the sound? Hearts beating, all the world around.

Five days after 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted, radio stations across Minnesota all played one of Jacob's favorite songs, Listen by Red Grammer, along with a message for Jacob from his mom, Patty.

I just want Jacob to know that this song is for him to hear. The heartbeat of humanity is beating for him. I know it will give him strength. If there's an ounce of compassion in the man who's holding him, he will let him go safely. Listen, Jacob. Can you hear our prayers? We love you.

Radio station employees and passersby joined in holding hands. Some in the media were even crying. The emotions are growing with the search right now.

I'm hoping that he would know that we're out the snow looking for him, that we didn't give up.

The people in the town of St. Joseph seemed driven by the belief that by brute force of will, they could bring Jacob back. They made fliers with Jacob's photo, and put them everywhere, on telephone poles, on shop windows, on doors and parked cars. Everywhere you went, you'd see people with white ribbons pinned to their shirts to symbolize hope for Jacob. Thousands of people even lined up in a human chain shivering in the cold and crying.

The chain began on the main highway just near the Del-Win Ballroom.

The chain stretched for three miles. 3500 schoolchildren were bussed in. Even two baseball players from the Minnesota Twins showed up, wearing blue warm-up jackets embroidered with Jacob's initials.

People of all ages and walks of life came out to keep the hope alive, hope that 11-year-old Jacob will return home safely.

Jacob's abduction fell neatly into two typical television news narratives, small town pulling together, and heroic investigators doing all they can.

Police and volunteers in the sky and on the ground hunt frantically for a little boy kidnapped at gunpoint.

Within days, dozens of law enforcement officers started arriving in town.

Search teams are combing the area just west of St. Cloud for any trace of the 11-year-old boy.

By the end of the week, there are almost a hundred officers working the case. They came from all over. There were sheriffs deputies, FBI agents, state investigators, and local officers from across Minnesota. The governor even called out the National Guard.

Five helicopters scanned the 30-square-mile area, while searchers below comb the area on foot without finding a trace.

Searchers were working 18-hour days.

Search crews, helicopters, and bloodhounds could not find any clue as to Jacob Wetterling's whereabouts today, but his family has not given up hope.

This search was massive. It was unlike anything Minnesota had seen before. In fact, it was one of the largest searches for any single missing person in the history of the United States. People just assumed every square inch of the region have been scoured, and every person who might have seen something had been interviewed, but that wasn't true.

This is In the Dark, an investigative podcast from APM Reports. In this series, we're looking at what went wrong in the case of Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year-old who was kidnapped in Central Minnesota in 1989, and whose remains were found just last week.

Today, we're going to take a closer look at what happened the night Jacob was kidnapped. We're going to find out how the decisions of law enforcement in this critical first few hours would allow the man who took Jacob to get away unpunished for 27 years.

Just today, a man named Danny Heinrich appeared in a Minneapolis courtroom. I was there, along with what seemed like every other reporter in Minnesota. There were so many people, I couldn't even get into the main courtroom, so I went into one of the two overflow rooms to watch on a video feed. And pretty soon, those rooms filled up too.

Danny Heinrich came into the courtroom wearing a light-colored shirt and dark pants. He's a short guy, 5'5", stocky, with white hair. He walked up to face the judge with an attorney on either side and stood with his back to us. We all leaned in to make sure we heard what happened next. The federal prosecutor asked the question, "On October 22nd 1989, did you kidnap, sexually assault, and murder Jacob Wetterling?" "Yes I did," Heinrich said. A loud gasp went through the courtroom, so loud it was picked up on the video feed. Finally, there would be answers to the most notorious crime in Minnesota history.

The way the kidnapping of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was always talked about was as a kind of epic mystery that there was this heroic law enforcement effort that, somehow, the man who took Jacob slipped through their fingers. There was nothing else they could have done. Jacob just vanished.

And then, Danny Heinrich began to describe what actually happened. He seemed resigned to it, like he was forcing himself to get through it. He sighed a lot. Heinrich told the judge that on the night of October 22nd, 1989, for reasons he didn't explain, he got in his car, a blue 1982 Ford EXP, and drove half an hour from his apartment in the small town of Paynesville to St. Joseph. Inside his car was a scanner he used to pick up police dispatch and a .38 revolver.

Sometime after 8:00 p.m., Heinrich turned onto the dead-end road that led to the Wetterling's house. He saw three kids biking up toward town. He parked his blue Ford in a long gravel driveway across from a cornfield. And then, he waited.

When the boys biked back, Heinrich got out of his car, put on a mask, and walked onto the road. He ordered the boys into the ditch and grabbed Jacob. Heinrich took Jacob back to his car, handcuffed him, and put him in the front passenger seat. Heinrich said, "Jacob asked him a question, 'What did I do wrong?'" Heinrich drove Jacob around for a while, long enough that he started to hear police activity on a scanner. He told Jacob to lean forward in the seat and duck down, so no one would see him. Once they made it out of the town of St. Joseph, Heinrich told Jacob he could sit back up.

He kept driving around for a long time. Eventually, he took Jacob back to his own town, Paynesville, about 25 miles from where he'd kidnapped Jacob. He pulled off onto a side road near a gravel pit. Heinrich took the handcuffs off Jacob, and walked him over to a row of trees. He told Jacob to take off his clothes. Heinrich also undressed. He touched Jacob and had Jacob touch him. Then, he told Jacob to masturbate in front of him.

The assault went on for about 20 minutes. And then, Jacob told Heinrich that he was cold, so Heinrich told him he could get dressed. Jacob asked Heinrich to take him home, and Heinrich said he couldn't. Jacob started to cry. Heinrich told him to stop.

I noticed that Heinrich's seemed to have trouble telling this part of the story in the courtroom. It sounded like he had trouble breathing, like it was hard to get the words out. Heinrich said he saw a patrol car come down the road, and he panicked. He loaded his gun, and shot, and killed Jacob. Then, Heinrich got in his blue car, left Jacob's body, and drove home.

He spent a couple of hours at his apartment. Then, he headed back out on foot carrying a shovel, and walked a little over a mile back to where Jacob's body was. He started digging a hole, but the shovel was too small. So, he walked over to a construction company close by and stole a Bobcat. He started it up, and turned the lights on, and drove it back to the site.

By then, it was sometime after midnight, at least three hours since Jacob had been kidnapped. Heinrich used the Bobcat to dig the grave, and he put Jacob in it, and filled it in. Heinrich returned the Bobcat, and then came back to the grave, and tried to cover it up a bit more with grass and brush. Then, he realized he'd forgotten to bury Jacob's shoes. So, he walked for a few minutes down the road, and threw them into a ravine. And then, Heinrich walked home.

It was one of the worst stories I've ever heard told in a courtroom. Even some veteran reporters were crying. Heinrich's story was awful, but it wasn't just his brutality that shocked me. This did not seem like a perfect crime, not by a long shot. It involved hours of driving, of walking down a main road carrying a shovel, stealing a Bobcat in the middle of the night with the lights on to dig a grave. All of this in the first few critical hours of what had always been described as a massive and thorough investigation.

I wanted to know what law enforcement should have been doing in those critical first few hours. To find out, I needed to start with the basics, Policing 101. So, I reached out to a guy named Patrick Zirpoli to help me understand how an investigation like this is supposed to go. Zirpoli is one of the top consultants in the country on child abduction cases. He used to coordinate the Amber Alert program in Pennsylvania. Zirpoli told me there are two things you need to do right away when you arrive at a crime scene. They're both pretty basic. First, secure the scene, then — and this is the one he stressed the most — talk to the neighbors.

So, we always say, you know, start close and work your way out. You know, start from their home, start doing interviews, knocking on doors. And we always tell people, you wanna interview over, and over, and over. You want to interview people multiple times, not just one time. You know, if a case drags on for more than a day, and goes in the second and third day, you want to re-interview everyone again.

I called a couple of other experts to confirm that this immediate repeated interviewing of neighbors is standard procedure. I talked to a man named Vernon Geberth. He trains law enforcement officers all over the country. He's one of the best known trainers in the US. He's also worked in the New York Police Department as a lieutenant in a homicide unit in the Bronx.

I have taught over 72,000 people the art and science of homicides since 1980. Author of Practical Homicide Investigation, considered the bible, author of Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation, author of Autoerotic Death Investigation, author of the Checklist and Field Guide Second and Third … First and Second Edition, et cetera, which proves I have no life.

Geberth didn't want to comment specifically on this case because he hasn't seen the investigative file, but he told me it's hard to overstate how important it is to talk to the neighbors.

I can tell you that every major case that I was in charge of in the City of New York that resulted in a successful conclusion was based on a good neighborhood canvass, where people were asked to report anything. Even though they didn't think it was important, it turned out to be important.

Geberth says these people who don't realize they've seen something important are called unknowing witnesses.

Yeah, the unwilling witnesses is a term that we use when we do a canvass of the area where the event is taking place. And you never ask someone, "Did you see anything strange?" You ask them, "Did you see anything?" "Okay. I see a guy sticking a mic in my mouth right now." Okay. That unknowing witness, that piece of information could be paramount to the investigation.

And like, what would be an example of something that people just don't pick up on as important?

Somebody walking down the street, parking a car. Why would that be important? Well, it would be important if later on, that car was parked at the same time the murder took place.

Right. How soon do you start talking to other people?

Immediately. Immediately because time is your biggest enemy in an investigation. People have short memories. They don't remember everything correctly. You got to get out there, and talk to people, and find out what the hell is going on. You have to reconstruct the time and the events going back, the dynamics of what was taking place in that area at the time.

How long of have law enforcement known about the basic techniques for solving cases?

Probably forever. Sherlock Holmes. Yeah, okay.

So, knock on doors, talk to everyone, and do it right away. Basic stuff. And the agency that was responsible for doing this in the Jacob Wetterling case was the Stearnes County Sheriff's Office. Here's how the investigation worked. The Stearnes County Sheriff was in charge. It was sheriff's deputies who were on the scene that night. They were the ones at the Wetterling's house and the ones who organized all that searching that night.

The sheriff did ask for help from the FBI and other agencies, and they arrived the next morning, but the sheriff stayed in charge of the investigation. So, I started calling some of the investigators from back then to ask them whether the sheriff and his deputies had done this policing 101 stuff, knocking on doors, asking people what they saw. And everyone was kind of dismissive when I asked them about this like, "Of course, we did that." Here's retired FBI agent Al Garber.

I'm not sure, but I would assume yes. Detectives ask those questions.

And Jeff Jamal, also, from the FBI.

I think, if the neighborhood was looked at very quickly and very broadly.

And former Stearnes County Detective Steve Mund.

I'm sure I did. I'm just going through the logical steps for doing investigation.

But no one I talked to actually remembered going around and knocking on doors that night. That seemed a little odd. So, I asked another reporter I worked with, Curtis Gilbert, to call everyone he could find who'd lived on the dead-end road that Jacob, Trevor, and Aaron would have biked along the night of October 22nd 1989, and ask them a simple question, "When did law enforcement first talk to you?"


We are recording?


Oh okay.

So, you're here to give me the latest?

I can give you the breakdown. I actually did … I made even like a little chart here.

Curtis managed to dig up some old city directories at a local archive, and he used those to figure out who lived on the dead-end street the boys biked down on October 22nd, 1989. It was nearly a hundred people. Some of them have since died, but Curtis tried to find as many as he could. He was able to reach 26.

Let me pull up my spreadsheet. I call this when they were first interviewed by police.

So, did law enforcement talk to everybody in the neighborhood that night?

That night, no way. Did you want to … I brought a little tape because I thought there's a few interesting things.

Yeah, that'd be great.

Curtis played me some audio from the people he talked to. And keep in mind, it's been 27 years, so some people's memories aren't great.

No, we didn't hear anything, you know. Isn't that weird? But they didn't really … They didn't come to the door that night, but they-

Oh, about two or three weeks later, the FBI came in. They knocked on the door.

But it was a couple of weeks, and they interviewed.

Did the police ever come knocking at your door since you lived in the neighborhood? Did you ever have to talk to the cops about it or?



They never did.

They never did? Okay.

Okay. So, people who are sure they were talked to that night of the 26, two. Two people were sure they were talked to that night.

Remember, we're not talking about everyone on the dead-end road, just the 26 people Curtis was able to reach.

Four people thought they were talked to the next day or maybe it was that night.

So, two people for sure that night. And then, another four people who think they were talked to the next day, but say it's possible it was really the first night. So, giving law enforcement the benefit of the doubt that six people on the dead-end road who were talked to by law enforcement that night out of the people Curtis talked to. As for the rest of the people, some of them said they weren't interviewed at all. Some said they were talked to the next day. Others say they were eventually interviewed a few days or even a few weeks later, but not by local law enforcement. They remember being interviewed by the FBI because it kind of creeped them out.

It was two agents. Everyone said they were talked to by two agents. Multiple people described those interviews this way, "There's two. There's two agents there. One of them asked you the questions, and the other one just watches you, watches your facial expressions." That's multiple people-


… who described exactly in those terms.

So, did law enforcement talk to everyone in the neighborhood that night? No. Did they go back to all the people they did interview, and talk to them over and over, like the experts say you should? No. And this failure to canvass the neighborhood thoroughly that night was a big deal. It meant that law enforcement didn't get all the information right away when it was most important in those critical first few hours. Those hours matter because, most of the time, if a child is going to be killed by an abductor, it happens in the first five hours. You can't go back the next day, and just redo the investigation. Most of the time, it's too late.

When I had pictured the kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling, I focused on the isolation that it didn't matter if anyone talked to the neighbors because no one in the neighborhood saw anything anyway. The boys were alone on that bike ride home. The street was deserted. It was just the three boys, Jacob, Aaron, and Trevor, and the abductor waiting for them in the dark. But that's not at all what was going on that night. It turns out that the whole way people have been picturing this crime is just wrong.

Lots of people saw that.

Wait. What?

Yeah, lots of people saw them coming. I mean-

Are you serious?

Yeah. People were out and kids were out. And I talked to multiple families who saw them coming and going.

Would you remember where you were when you first heard about the abduction?

Well, actually, I heard the boys going by me.

Curtis talked to one guy named Jim Kline. In 1989, he lived on the dead-end road, a bit closer to town. And on the evening of October 22nd, he was out in his garage working on a car.

Yeah,they were just walking with their … Coming back from the convenience store or whatever, and just walked right outside my garage. I just happened to be walking outside while they were going by and, you know, recognized who it was, but that was it.

Crazy. So, you probably saw them like around 9:00 that night or something, right?

Yeah, helps me out at the house.

You're probably like one of the last people to see him.

Yeah, possibly.


Jim Klein says he wasn't talked to by law enforcement until a week or two later, and he, actually, wasn't the last person to see the boys that night.

We were outside, and him and I were the only two out there. Maybe the other kids had gone in.

Yeah, because that's how the lady got in.

And we talked to them just briefly.

I talked to a brother and sister named Adam and Erica Sundquist who lived very close to the abduction site, about a two-minute walk down the road. They were 12 and 9 at the time. And that night, they were out playing what everyone on the block just called "night games."

Kicked the can. It goes in the graveyard. Just weird games we came up with.


I remember kick the can was the most probably.

Do you remember what we were doing?

We're throwing corn in there, where they kick of-

You what?

We had corn. We had corn from the field. We're shelling it, and throwing it in the air.

So, Adam and Erica are out in the yard throwing corn, and they see Jacob, and Trevor, and Aaron on their way back from the Tom Thumb. They said the boys were going pretty slow. They even threw some corn at them as a joke.

It was literally within a minute that they biked by our house that they were stopped up that hill. It was within a minute because it only takes about a minute to bike that distance, right?

Yeah, a minute or two, which was kind of spooky.

A few minutes after the boys passed their house, Erica and Adam remember seeing a burgundy car, with the kind of jacked up back, drive past heading south on the road in the same direction as the boys.

It's going up the hill towards where they went, pass us. So, I don't know. I mean, there is no road to turn off of. If you're going to get down the hill, there's two cul de sacs. And then, you had to come back through.

Yeah, there was no exit that way. You had to come back by our house to get out, you know, from back there.


Then, we went in the house. We've never seen anyone drive back through.

Erica and Adam say they don't remember any law enforcement officers knocking on their door that night. They don't remember ever talking to investigators, but they assume they must have, at some point. I do know their story matches what they were saying back then because they found a 15-second interview they did with a local TV news reporter back in 1989, just a day or so after Jacob was abducted.

They were going that way. And then, we see that car going really fast go by here, and he was going the same way.

I wasn't sure how seriously investigators would take this kind of information from a couple of kids. Is this the sort of thing that you'd elevate or just shrug off because, you know, 10-year-olds. But Patrick Zirpoli, the child abduction expert, told me that not only should you take these kinds of stories seriously, you should actually seek them out because kids notice things adults don't.

I've always said you want to look for that person who, not the parents think is odd, but other children in the neighborhood may say that this person is odd. "You know, he has been at the school bus before, the school bus stop before. He has talked to us in the park." Those are those individuals that you want to start looking for immediately because, you know, if they're in that area, you know, you want to identify them, identify their whereabouts as soon as you can.

Some of the neighbors who lived the closest to the abduction site suspected back then that something was off about the investigation. And some of the reasons they felt that way are striking. And frankly, in some cases, a little strange. Let me tell you about a family called the Klaphakes. They lived on the dead-end road. And their story about how they first encountered the investigators starts out in a kind of odd and kind of dark way. Curtis played me part of the conversation he had with Jerry Klaphake, the father of the family.

So, the Klaphakes, on the day of the abduction, they had been visiting relatives in the Twin Cities. They came back. Their car broke down like half an hour outside of town. They had to get that fixed. They went home. They went to bed. The next day, lots of police cars and media swarming the neighborhood, and their dog got hit by a car. So, he had … So, Jerry Klaphake had his neighbor with him, and he described burying the dog in their backyard.

And my neighbor, my next-door neighbor, was with me. I had just tilled up my garden, and I thought that's probably a good place to bury the dog. And so, I remember, at night, we're out there, and digging this hole, putting my dog in it, and then covering it up. Yeah, I told my neighbor. I said. "You're my witness. This is my dog down here," because I was convinced that, you know, it's a fresh grave. Basically, you know, dirt dug up. And they just had a ton of people doing a search in the woods behind our house. They were within probably 15 feet off my garden. And I was all surprised that they didn't catch that. And if they miss that, you know, what else did they miss. You know, that's what I thought at that time.

Jerry Klaphake told Curtis, the person he should really talk to is his son, Adam.

Could you just introduce yourself or say your name, so I can make sure you're being recorded okay?

Yeah. My name is Adam Klaphake.

And how old are you, Adam?

I am now 41.

Back in 1989, Adam was 14. He was friends with Jacob Wetterling. He would go over to the Wetterlings' house for sleepovers. And people in the neighborhood would even talk about how the boys looked alike. Adam said, first of all, there were other weird things that had happened on that dead-end road, including this one thing that happened about five or six years before Jacob was kidnapped.

I was probably 9 or 8, 9 or 10 years old, somewhere in those times.

Adam and some other kids were playing kickball out in the yard. It was around dusk.

And somebody kicked the ball over the hedge, and it had gone over the road, gone in the ditch. So, I jumped. I remember jumping to the hedge, running across the road to go grab the ball. I grabbed the ball. And as I'm grabbing it, somebody picked me up. I couldn't see the face after that. You know, I had my back to him. He had me like in a bear hug, or a bear hold, or whatever. And the person had glasses. I remember that, and kind of a dark, raspy voice. And then, as he's holding me up, he holds me pretty tight. My sister had opened the door and yelled for us that I needed to come in. And the guy says to me, 'You're lucky your sister called you," and he threw me down. And I never saw him.

Adam told Curtis he remembers telling his dad, but they didn't call the police. A few years pass, and then another strange thing happens to Adam on that same dead-end road in 1989, just a month or two before Jacob was kidnapped.

A couple of months before the abduction, he and his friend, Brandon, have been walking back from the Tom Thumb.

I was 14 at the time. Brandon was 12. We would go down to the Tom Thumb every night practically. We did that quite a bit that summer. And it was dark. It was after 10:00 at night.

And they were chased by a car-.


… down that same road.

The dead-end road, where just a month or two later, a man would grab Jacob and put him in his car.

And so, they jumped into the ditch.

He was right … He was he was real close, just behind us. And so, we just hit the ditch. And by then, he was like right there.

Oh my god.

And very freaked out, and they ran to Brandon's house, which is like three doors down from the Klaphakes.

The boys ran in to Brandon's parents garage.

So, we just went as fast as we could into his garage. And the car pulled into his driveway, and then backed up. And then, he just put it in park, and put it on brakes. And he just stared on us.

And they say they sort of have a staring contest with this car and the guy in the car for what Adam describes as a couple of minutes.


And then, they ran inside.

Did they see who the person was in the car?


Did they recognize him?


And what did they think this person was doing?

Being creepy.

Okay, but to get back-

But anyway-

… to it. So, what kind of car was it?

It was a blue car.

A blue car.


Not just any blue car.

My friend's mother had a Pontiac 6000. And we compared it to that. I think, they said it was a blue car that looks similar to a Pontiac 6000.

A blue Pontiac 6000. Here's what stopped me short about that, the car that Danny Heinrich was driving the night he kidnapped Jacob was a blue Ford EXP, but that car, that blue Ford looks a whole lot like a Pontiac 6000. Both are kind of boxy, low to the ground, would be easy to mistake one car for the other.

Adam and his dad say no one came and knocked on their door the night Jacob was kidnapped. No one came by that night to ask if they'd seen anything. No one asked Adam that night if he'd ever seen anyone creepy in the neighborhood.

I remember waking up the next morning because we didn't even know what had happened that night. And the dogs were barking in my bedroom window, and, you know, the police going through our yard and everything like that. That's how I woke up.

Adam said, still, no one from law enforcement came to him asking if he saw anything. So, he asked his dad to drive them to the command center a few days later. And Adam said both he and his friend, Brandon, described the car to investigators. Adam said, he told the same story to the FBI a few days later.

The authorities never spoke to me again after the FBI came to our house, and I kind of forgot about it.

He's never asked to look at any pictures or?

You know, I kind of thought that maybe they would press me a little more and maybe, you know, ask me some more questions about it. Who knows. Maybe even try to hypnotize me or something like that. But, you know, I said I'd do anything to help, and they don't want to have anything to do with it.

Years past, but Adam couldn't get the story out of his mind. Maybe the guy in the car was the same guy who'd kidnapped Jacob. It, certainly, seems similar, same road, a couple of kids, Adam even looked like Jacob.

Okay. So, in 2004, Adam Klaphake takes the day off of work to go talk to the sheriff again. He wants to tell the story again. You know, he doesn't remember it nearly as well. You know, it's what?

15 years later.

15 years later. And he offers to take them on a drive through the neighborhood. "I'll show you where this happened, and where we were chased from, and the route we would always take to go to the Tom Thumb." And he said that the police did not seem or the sheriff detective, who is the same detective who had interviewed him 15 years earlier, he didn't seem interested.

I remember leaving out of there just so angry because they weren't listening to anything that I had to say.

Adam said, for a long time, he figured the reason that investigators didn't seem interested was because maybe his details back then weren't great. Maybe his account was totally different from his friend, Brandon's. Maybe the whole thing was so vague that it was just useless. But about a year ago, Adam got curious, and asked a sheriff's deputy if he could look at his old statement, that statement he gave to law enforcement as a kid.

When I got the transcripts, my jaw dropped because I don't remember being able to identify the guy. That blew me away. Again, I thought my friend and I had disagreed upon the color of car, and that's why it was never brought up again. But that wasn't the case. We did agree on the color of the car, and we did agree on the description of the man, shorter hair, kind of a stocky build. There were probably a few other details that I don't remember, but we both said that we could identify him in a lineup.

And, you know, of course, like, then, you wonder, you know, "Okay, lineups aren't great," but you do wonder if they had put a bunch of photos in front of these two kids in separate rooms in October of 1989, what they would have said.

Yeah, we'll never know.

In the whole time, you know, you got two guys, a quarter of a mile from the abduction site that could possibly have identified him and no one ever asked. You know, like it totally slipped through the cracks. And now, it's too late. Now, it's too late, you know.

And here's the thing, Adam wasn't the first person to tell law enforcement about a creepy man in a blue car. Nine months before Jacob was kidnapped, there was another kid in the same county who was walking on a road one night when a man pulled up in a blue car and grabbed him.

Next time on In the Dark.

New evidence tonight leaves the FBI to believe that Jacob Wetterling's kidnapper may have struck before.

How many of these types of psychopathic pedophiles can exist in this 15 to 20-mile radius? I mean, was it more than one? Was there something bigger going on?

If they ever come close to finding me, I'll find you and kill you. Yeah.

There was a fear of God that was put into all of us, and that worry, and that fear, and that stress, or that … It just kind of festered and grew like a sliver. If you get a sliver in your finger, if you don't remove the sliver, it festers, and it grows, and then just infects the wound.

Nobody's ever asked me a single question about this or any of you guys. I've never been interviewed by police. I've never been talked to by any law enforcement ever, not one person.

In the Dark is produced by Samara Freemark. The associate producer is Natalie Jablonski. This episode was reported with significant help from reporter, Curtis Gilbert. In the Dark is edited by Catherine Winter with help from Hans Buetow. The editor in chief of APM Reports is Chris Worthington. Web editors are Dave Peters and Andy Kruse. The videographer is Jeff Thompson. Additional reporting by Jennifer Vogel, Will Craft, Emily Haavik, and Tom Scheck. Our theme music was composed by Gary Meister.

Go to to read more about Danny Heinrich, and to watch a video of Patty Wetterling talking about the search for Jacob, and to listen to audio from Curtis's interviews with the neighbors. And keep checking in, we'll be posting more information each week.

Automatically convert audio to text with Sonix

New to Sonix? Click here for 30 free transcription minutes!

Accurate, automated transcription

Sonix uses the latest AI to produce automated transcripts in minutes.
Transcribe audio and video files in 35+ languages.

Try Sonix Today For Free

Includes 30 minutes of free transcription