Heinrich as suspect: A timeline

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - While 53-year-old Danny Heinrich has been in the public eye for less than a year after being arrested on child pornography charges, the central Minnesota man has been on the radar screen of authorities for nearly three decades.  

KARE 11's Lou Raguse has compiled a timeline of Heinrich's contacts with law enforcement since 1989, when he first became a suspect in the kidnapping and sexual assault of Jared Scheierl, a 12-year-old boy from Cold Spring. 

  • 5/17/1987: Man in Paynesville grabs boy off bike and gropes him, leaving behind a baseball cap that is kept as evidence and later tested for DNA. This is one of 8 documented similar cases in Paynesville from August 1986-Fall 1988 within a few blocks of where Danny Heinrich lived.
  • 1/13/1989: Jared is kidnapped and sexually assaulted at 9:45 p.m. in Cold Spring, MN. Jared describes suspect as wearing camouflage fatigues and having scanner in car. Jared says car had luggage rack on trunk.
  • 1/16/1989: Danny Heinrich identified as suspect in Jared case. Often wears military fatigues and is member of national guard.
  • 1/17/1989: Jared picks Heinrich and one other person in a photo lineup as looking like the kidnapper.
  • 1/18/1989: Investigators find Heinrich’s vehicle, and see that it does not have a luggage rack. (possibly backing off of him as a suspect at this point.. although documents do not specify)
  • 10/22/1989: Jacob Wetterling abducted at about 9:15 p.m.
  • 12/13/1989 Jared meets with FBI agents to create a sketch of his kidnapper. This is significant, because it’s the sketch with the baseball cap that looks eerily similar to Heinrich’s mug. Pretty impeccable resemblance drawn 11 months after Jared’s kidnapping. Three days later the FBI brings Heinrich in for his first interview.
  • 12/16/1989: Danny Heinrich first interviewed by FBI. Questioned about Jared and Jacob. Told investigators he couldn’t remember where he was on the days of the kidnappings. Denies knowledge of either kidnapping. Said he lived at 121 Washburne Avenue in Paynesville until Nov. 1989 before moving to father’s house.
  • 1/8/1990: Paynesville Police Chief informs Wetterling investigators of Paynesville molestations, saying Heinrich is a suspect in those.
  • 1/12/1990: Heinrich re-interviewed. Surrenders his tennis shoes to law enforcement. Heinrich also voluntarily provides body hair samples that would later be tested for DNA.
  • 1/15/1990: Heinrich lets law enforcement remove rear tires of his car, which he would have owned at the time of Jacob’s kidnapping. Law enforcement also tracks down car Heinrich would have been driving at time of Jared’s kidnapping, which was repossessed from Heinrich two months after that incident.
  • 1/16/1990: Jared sits inside vehicle, tells law enforcement it feels like the car he was abducted  in.
  • 1/18/1990: Carpet and seat samples taken from Heinrich's car.
  • 1/23/1990: Search warrant obtained for Heinrich’s father’s house, located at 16021 County Road 124, Paynesville, MN, where a family member claimed Danny had moved in Oct. 1989 (raising possibility he lived there during Jacob kidnapping.) Officer writing search warrant application says the shoe prints at the Wetterling scene had the same pattern as Heinrich’s, and the tire tread also matched tracks left at the kidnapping scene.
  • 1/24/1990: Search conducted, items seized include 2 scanners, portable scanner carrying case, scanner documents, black boots, brown caps, camouflage clothes. During the search Heinrich is interviewed for a third time.
  • 1/25/1990: FBI visits Heinrich, who agrees to appear in lineup and pick up his rear tires.
  • 1/26/1990: Heinrich appears in lineup with 5 other white males, Jared cannot positively identify him as the kidnapper. It's worth noting that a year has passed since Jared was kidnapped. That same day, FBI lab advises investigators that Heinrich’s tires are consistent but not an exact match with tracks found at Wetterling scene.
  • 2/9/1990: FBI lab indicates fibers found on Jared’s snowmobile suit match those recovered from the car Heinrich was driving at that time. Heinrich is arrested on probable cause for kidnapping and sexual assault of Jared. Heinrich claims he’s not guilty, is being framed, and says he’s not going to talk. Invokes right to attorney. Later released without being charged.
  • 4/13/1990: FBI lab determines Heinrich shoe’ impressions “correspond in design” but it cannot be determined if they made the actual tracks found at Wetterling abduction scene.
  • 2/8/1991: All Heinrich property seized from father’s home is returned to him. The case goes quiet.
  • 7/18/2012: New tests at BCA lab find DNA profile on Jared’s snow pants, sweatshirt and shirt.
  • 3/5/2014: BCA tests find DNA on baseball hat recovered in 5/17/1987 Paynesville molestation case.
  • 5/12/2015: DNA collected from Heinrich in 1990 is tested. It is found to match DNA on Jared’s shirt sleeve, to a degree of certainty that the profile would not occur more than once among unrelated people in the world population. Heinrich’s DNA also matches Paynesville baseball cap to degree of certainty that 80.5% of world population can be ruled out.
  • 7/28/2015 Investigators execute search warrant for Heinrich’s Annandale home, looking for evidence of Jacob and Jared’s kidnappings. They find binders of child porn. He is arrested and jailed on charges of possessing child pornography. 

 


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