Part Two: Julie Nelson's conversation with Dan Rassier

3:50 PM, Oct 6, 2010   |    comments
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COLD SPRING, Minn. -- For 21 years police have been asking the same question and for all that time, Dan Rassier has been giving the same response.

"I had no idea what was happening up at the mailbox," said Rassier.

The 54-year-old has been considered a person of interest in the Jacob Wetterling abduction since the day the 11-year-old went missing, October 22, 1989.

Rassier has always maintained he had nothing to do with Jacob's disappearance. However, more than two decades of suspicion have taken their toll.

"It's a big thing for me. For 21 years of my life it's been revolving around, you might say, around this whole conspiracy thing," said Dan Rassier.

It was six years ago when the scrutiny intensified for Rassier. Investigators ruled out the use of a car in Jacob's abduction.  The attention turned to Rassier.

"I was home alone. I don't have an alibi," said Rassier.

Rassier says he has been interrogated more time than he can count.

"They even said to me, this was six years ago,  "Would you be willing to just admit you did it and end this whole thing so we can go on and get this solved?" "They've said that to me," said Rassier.

"What was your reaction?" asked Jule Nelson

"I laughed. I laughed at them. They didn't like that but for me I have to have a sense of humor about something so serious or I wouldn't be here. I'd have gone crazy long ago," answered Rassier.

It's that sense of humor that Rassier credits for helping him deal with the cloud of suspicion. It hasn't, however, been as easy for his parents. 

"That's what I'm angry about. It is it's turned into a monster so to speak. My elderly parents, they really are having a hard time," he said.

The focus on Rassier returned this past summer when FBI and BCA agents showed up on his parent's St. Joseph farm with earth digging equipment to look for evidence of Jacob.

"It was the worst day of my life, without a doubt," said Rassier. "That experience that day...I thought my dad was going to die of a heart attack. It was that ugly."

Rassier said his dad, angered by a news report the night before, said something he shouldn't have to investigators and the officers got physical.

"They physically pulled my mom out of the house onto the floor. The way things escalated, I put my arms around my dad just to try to calm him down. He was just so scared of what was happening," said Rassier.

Invesigators told the Rassiers to leave the property, but Dan got permission to go back briefly to pick up some paperwork.

"In the process I started talking to a few investigators and that was fine with me," he said. "I drove down to the gravel pit with them. They were asking me a lot of questions."

Rassier says investigators asked him where somebody would bury a body on the farm. He told them where they should have looked, where they should have dug.

"So you actually wanted them to do more?" asked Nelson.

"I will be in trouble for saying this...yes," said Dan.

The soil samples taken from the Rassier property yielded no evidence of Jacob. Investigators are still, however, processing things taken from the house, mainly papers from Rassier's bedroom.

"It's organized but it's so much stuff and so much paperwork files on everything and I have a Jacob Wetterling file," said Dan.

"Why?" asks Julie.

"Why not," he answers. "Would it be weird to let all of this be lost in my memory."

Rassier says the file contained newspaper clippings, videotapes of news and a letter from Patty Wetterling.

"Was that letter addressed to you?" asked Julie Nelson

"It was addressed to me but it looks like it went through the sheriff's department. It was basically pleading with me to, basically accusing me that I did it and that would you please end this whole thing and let's wrap this up and come forward."

Rassier received that letter six years ago, but never responded. Then, last October, he ran into Patty outside his health club.

"She asked me if I could talk and my just reaction was well, yeah, of course. Twenty years is long enough to not talk. So, we sat down and talked for about an hour," said Dan.

He says Patty asked several times if Dan was responsible for Jacob's disappearance. He, said no.

Rassier says the fact investigators found nothing on the farm should give everyone hope.

"That Jacob could be alive somewhere. Wouldn't that be a dream? It could happen. The hope is there and if we have hope then we have something," said Rassier.

RELATED:  View part one of Nelson's interview with Rassier

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