Search warrants unsealed in Wetterling case

Search warrants detail Wetterling's disappearance

MINNEAPOLIS -- Authorities have unsealed search warrants in the Jacob Wetterling case that spanned nearly three decades.

The documents shared Friday morning involve dozens of pages focusing on three suspects:

  • Daniel Rassier, a neighbor of the Wetterlings
  • Duane Allen Hart, a convicted sexual predator who lived in Paynesville at the time of Jacob's abduction
  • Danny Henrich, who this week confessed to killing Jacob after abducting and molesting him on October 22, 1989

The following is a breakdown of what the search warrants detail in relation to each suspect.

Daniel Rassier

Warrant was filed on June 28, 2010 to search for Jacob alive, or human remains and Jacob’s clothes if he was deceased. Investigators received legal permission to searching the Rassier family farm at 29748 91st Avenue in St. Joseph, including a number of small sheds, detached garage, barn and a grain bin. 

The night of the abduction Daniel Rassier reported one car enter his driveway and leave around 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  He reported that he saw another car pull into the driveway and leave at a high rate of speed around 9 or 10 p.m.  He described it as a blue car that was like a Chevelle.

Rassier was interviewed a number of times, giving statements that made investigators include him as a potential suspect. At one point an investigator told Rassier he believed that Jacob's abductor came from the Rassier farm, and that a car was not involved in the kidnapping. 

In November of 1989 Rassier underwent a videotaped hypnotic interview conducted by a psychologist to help him remember more details about the night Jacob was abducted. 

An investigator and Rassier re-watched that taped hypnotic interview in February of 2004 and it raised new questions about whether Rassier might be the abductor. In the taped interview Rassier began crying and shaking whenever Jacob's name was mentioned.  He had earlier told friends he had a split personality. He said things like if he (Rassier) did take Jacob he would have plenty of time to dispose of him on the farm.  Said he felt law enforcement made mistakes by not searching his farm until four or five days after the abduction. 

The warrant detailed how Rassier had made similar comments to his parents.

Law enforcement had Rassier under surveillance for four days in October 2007.

Patty Wetterling wore a wire when she spoke with Rassier outside a St. Cloud health club in October 2009 as authorities listened in. She asked him if he knew what happened to Jacob, and Rassier insisted he did not, saying the person responsible is "probably dead."

 In June of 2010 investigators used heavy equipment to excavate a number of areas on the Rassier farm, and found nothing. 

Duane Allen Hart

Duane Hart was interviewed at Moose Lake Sex Offender Program in August 2014.

At the time Hart was considered “a viable suspect for these crimes”  because he was charged with a number of assaults on young boys in Paynesville during the late 80’s.  He was sent to prison in January of 1990 after being convicted on a handful of sexual assaults on boys in Stearns and Kandiyohi Counties. Once Hart was put in prison the assaults stopped.

A baseball cap was left at one of the scenes and kept for evidence.  In 2013 forensic scientists performed a DNA analysis on the cap.  The DNA profile from the hat was a mix of 3 or 4 individuals.

In the Hart search warrant officials listened to phone calls from July 2013 to the present. In one of those recorded calls, Hart asks a person to “get rid” of items in Hart’s storage locker. 

The returned warrant is non-specific.  The items taken were records from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, Moose Lake, pertaining to Duane Hart.

Danny Heinrich

The search warrant filed in association with Danny Heinrich details how a series of sexual assaults on boys in Paynesville during the mid-to-late-1980's occurred within blocks of Heinrich's apartment. It went on to document the abduction and sexual assault of Jared Scheierl in January of 1989, After authorities received a tip identifying Heinrich as a suspect in the attack Jared picked Heinrich out of a photo lineup as one of two people who may have kidnapped and molested him. 

In the months following the abduction of Jacob Wetterling, whose abduction was similar to Jared's, authorities interviewed Heinrich as a suspect. Investigators executed a search warrant on his father's home in Paynesville, seizing scanners, clothing, boots, and assorted other items. During a search of one of Heinrich's locked trunks a number of photos of young boys were recovered.

In February of 1990 Heinrich was arrested on probable cause kidnapping and sexual assault involving the Cold Spring boy Jared. Authorities were never able to construct a case solid enough to file charges. 

After a new DNA test in May of 2015 matched Heinrich's profile to samples found on clothing worn by Jared during the 1989 abduction and sexual assault, a search warrant was drawn up on the suspect's home in Annandale where child pornography was found. Heinrich was arrested and charged federally.

On August 30, 2016, an unnamed source of information (SOI) who has a personal relationship and regular contact with Heinrich said the defendant had told him/her that he had buried the remains of Jacob Wetterling on a plot of land off of Highway 23 in Paynesville. The SOI described where Heinrich had buried the bones and clothing. The warrant requested to search the farmstead where Jacob Wetterling's remains were located. 


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