Jacob Wetterling case file: breaking news, analysis

Stearns County is releasing its file from the 27-year investigation of Jacob Wetterling's abduction. Follow this for the latest updates.

     
    by Michael Olson, MPR News edited by Chris Graves, MPR News 9/20/2018 3:37:34 PM
    In a scathing press conference Thursday morning, Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson lashed out how the Jacob Wetterling investigation was handled by the FBI and local investigators in the early days of the 11-year-old's disappearance saying the case went far off course. 

    Gudmundson said "we all failed" in the 27-year investigation in the disappearance and death of Jacob, which seemed to have stumped cops from the get-go.

    But outlining the case, Gudmundson said that should not have happened. He said police had key evidence in the case months before Jacob was abducted.
     
    "The right hand literally did not know what the left hand was doing. There are huge time gaps between interview, investigation, dictation and transcription. Sometimes more than a month on important reports like search warrants. These time gaps are most prevalent in FBI reports,'' he said.
     
    The sheriff cited more repeated missed opportunities early in the case that pointed toward Danny Heinrich. He called a 1990 ill-timed arrest of a drunk Heinrich among the "fatal flaws.''

    Gudmundson's comments came during a press conference at the end of which he released thousands of pages of investigative documents in the case. That release does not include FBI files.
     
    Gudmundson says the FBI mishandled the investigation and took on work for which it wasn't qualified. He said because the FBI files remain confidential, the public won't get a clear picture of how federal investigators handled Wetterling's disappearance.
     
    But former FBI agent Al Garber, who led the early investigation into the abduction of Wetterling, took issue with Gudmundson's statements. Garber attended the press conference. 
     
    "Don wasn't there. He didn't see the day-to-day operations,'' Garber told reporters Thursday after the press conference. "... He doesn't know."

    MPR News is reviewing the released documents and will continue to report this story.
     
    Correction (Sept. 25) An earlier version of this post misspelled Stearns County and included the wrong year of the 1990 arrest of Heinrich.
    by Cody Nelson edited by Chris Graves, MPR News 9/20/2018 2:45:50 AM
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