Roadside memorial grows at site where Jacob was found

Minnesotans pay tribute to Jacob Wetterling

PAYNESVILLE, Minn. - It's one of the shortest roads in Stearns County but Tuesday, it was one of the most traveled.

Visitors near and far drove down 276th Avenue, stopping to lay flowers or just take a moment to remember the 11-year-old boy found in the nearby pasture. 

"It's just a peaceful place," one woman said.

As details of Jacob Wetterling's abduction and death came out in a Minneapolis courtroom, many felt compelled to visit the area where he lay hidden for nearly 27 years. 

"I just can't imagine what they're going through today," she said. 

Another visitor, just trying to process the family's pain.

"Nobody should have to go through this. God gave us those children to love," she said.

But love wasn't the only reason people stopped. Some came for comfort, or peace. 

"Just sit with it for a while, until I feel better," one visitor said.

Jody Wiener was raised on this road. She understands the constant traffic she's seen -- and on a day when so many are grieving, she doesn't mind it. 

"Riding the bus, driving to town, we drove by it every single day without knowing," she said. 

Even when investigators were combing the area, looking for Jacob, she said they didn't realize what was happening.

"Every day farm work is all we really thought," she said. "I literally got the chills when I got the timeline and kind of found out what they were doing and what I saw and not realizing what it was."

Though she knows Jacob is finally home and the family is on a long road to peace, it's still not the ending anyone wanted. 

"It's so sad," she said. "Even though you want to know what happened and how the story ends, you just don't want it like this."


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