OAK GROVE, Minn. – The Minnesota blogger who followed Jacob Wetterling’s case for years says last week's day in court was the hardest in her life.
“By far the hardest thing was just hearing what Jacob had to say. He was so innocent in all of it. That was what was the hardest,” Baker told KARE 11 days after 53-year-old Danny Heinrich testified in court he kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered the 11-year-old St. Joseph boy.
Following the hearing, Patty Wetterling specifically acknowledged Baker and Jared Scheierl’s roles in helping to find Jacob. It was DNA in Scheierl’s 1989 case that ultimately led investigators to Heinrich last October. But before that development, Scheierl and Baker were relentlessly pursuing leads of their own.
“I couldn’t have done it alone. And I don’t think he could have done it alone,” Baker said about their efforts.
Baker started blogging about Jacob’s case in 2010 when new developments in his case were coming to light. She resumed her research in 2013 – eventually finding Jared – and then together finding other survivors in the Paynesville community.
“The thing about the Paynesville incidents, we had no idea that those existed,” she said, adding, “We realized this is a big deal. These are really horrifying incidents – terrifying – that these kids lived through. And they were really never taken seriously we felt.”
Baker acknowledges she’s been frustrated with law enforcement at times, but she reserves her greatest frustration and anger for the man who took Jacob and then kept his secret for nearly 27 years.
“That he took this innocent life. This little kid, just a little kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And he took that smile that we all love so much away from this world,” she said.
As for the next chapter in her writing career, Baker hasn’t yet decided. But Baker knows she’s grateful to the Wetterling family, for their trust and respect. She also knows she’ll continue to follow the truth of her own hashtag -- #thinkingjacob.
“I’ll have to rethink things for a bit, but he’ll never be far from my thoughts of course,” she said.