MINNEAPOLIS - Danny Heinrich, the 53-year-old man who confessed Tuesday to abducting and murdering Jacob Wetterling, had been a suspect almost from the start.
The FBI put Heinrich under surveillance in 1989, hoping he'd lead them to Jacob's body. They also brought him in for questioning in December of that year.
Al Garber supervised the FBI investigation of Heinrich right after Jacob was abducted.
The day after Heinrich publicly admitted in court to killing Jacob, Garber talked with KARE 11's investigative reporter Caroline Lowe about the original focus on Heinrich as a suspect and why there was not enough evidence back then to charge him with a crime.
Caroline Lowe: Is there anything about this case you keep playing through your mind, you keep thinking about, that stays with you?
Al Garber: Probably the most important thing is that he could be silent for so, so long. That keeps occurring in my mind.
Caroline Lowe: And if he continued to keep silent we still wouldn't know where Jacob was?
Al Garber: That's right.
Caroline Lowe: What stood out about Heinrich when he was interviewed?
Al Garber; Well, in retrospect, I'm thinking he knew we didn't have any real evidence. And he was an evil enough, cold enough person to not show emotion. And he was able to do that with us. And he was able to get to a point where he asked for an attorney and I think he knew we that we had no real evidence and he played that part.
Caroline Lowe: Looking back 27 years later, is there anything that hits you that might done that would have made a difference? What could you have done, looking back?
Al Garber: No, there isn't anything, Caroline. And I've thought about it many times, and so have the other people who worked on it with me. We did what we could. We did all that we could. We were so dedicated. Everybody was so dedicated.
Caroline Lowe: What was the difference 27 years later that made the difference?
Al Garber: Well, obviously, DNA. And we didn't have that technology.
Al Garber: Yesterday, finally finding out he was dead, that made me very sad.
I don't know if the word closure means anything anymore. I know that the person who murdered him admitted it and is off to prison. But that's all. It's not enough. Just not enough. It's in no way satisfying to me. I don't think I can feel good about any of this.
Garber discussed the investigation of Heinrich as a suspect in Jacob Wetterling's abduction in a book he wrote, "Striving to Be the Best."
He is now retired from the FBI and licensed as a private investigator.