ST. JOSEPH, Minn. - News that Jacob Wetterling's remains were found has sent a shock through the state of Minnesota -- where so many had been holding their breath, hoping for a different outcome.
Patty Wetterling confirmed to KARE 11's Caroline Lowe Saturday morning the remains of her son had been found. "Our hearts are broken," she said via text.
As news spread of the heartbreaking discovery, there was a mix of emotions in St. Joseph, the small town where the Wetterlings call home -- and where Jacob was embraced as "everyone's son." Those in the community told KARE the day was filled with sadness and some relief.
Some were seen placing flowers and cards of encouragement at the end of the Wetterling's driveway. That memorial continued to grow on Sunday.
Others worked to process the news they've been dreading for nearly 27 years.
"I've heard about him my whole life and just finally hearing that he's found is just I don't know what to say," said Josiah Taflinger, of St. Joseph.
Another St. Joseph resident said he was brought to tears.
"I was at a gas station and the lady said, 'I heard some breaking news,'" he said. "It did go through my head and when she said it, I was like in tears, you know. It was bad but a relief also. For so many years, everybody has been waiting to hear where is he and maybe this will bring closure and more awareness of the people."
Al Krey lives on the same street as the Wetterlings. His children, three boys, were around the same age as Jacob when he disappeared.
"I remember very well. I would turn my light on so that those boys could play football at night," he said. "I still turn my light on at night and look down the street. It's sad. This is just so sad."
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and other officials are also offering support to the Wetterling family.
In a statement, Dayton says Jacob's story "has touched the lives and hearts of Minnesotans for a generation." He says he's praying for peace for the Wetterling family "and for all Minnesotans touched by this tragedy."
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has worked with Jacob's mother, Patty Wetterling, on missing children legislation. Klobuchar says the Wetterling family "and all who knew and loved Jacob are in our hearts today."
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, whose district includes the Wetterlings' hometown of St. Joseph, says Jacob's disappearance on Oct. 22, 1989, "shattered the innocence of all Minnesotans."
On Saturday night, many Minnesotans left their porch lights on -- a symbol that's been part of the hope surrounding Jacob's case since he disappeared. The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center would ask supporters every year on the anniversary of his disappearance to leave their porch lights on in memory of Jacob and to help raise awareness.