Wetterling case 'person of interest' stays in jail on porn charges

Danny Heinrich
Danny Heinrich
Sherburne County Sheriff's Office

A judge on Wednesday found probable cause for a criminal complaint on child porn charges against Daniel Heinrich, the man identified as a person of interest in the 1989 abduction of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling.

Heinrich made a court appearance in court Wednesday after being charged with child pornography discovered during a search of his Annandale, Minn., home seeking evidence in an alleged assault and abduction of a boy in Cold Spring, Minn., in 1989 and Jacob's abduction later that year.

Heinrich has been charged only on child pornography counts and not for any crime connected to the Cold Spring assault or Jacob's abduction. Officials, however, have said that DNA ties Heinrich to the Cold Spring case but that they can't charge him because of the statute of limitations on the case has expired.

Still, Judge Tony N. Leung kept Heinrich in custody, saying the facts of the child pornography case "create a chilling context and (show the) gravity of danger to this community."

FBI agent Shane Ball said authorities reviewed the entire Wetterling case again last year and found information on Heinrich from the original investigation.

Officials have said that tire tracks and shoe prints found at the Wetterling scene were consistent with shoes owned by Heinrich and tires that were on his car during the initial investigation. However, they have said they could not find an exact match.

Authorities used a hair sample from Heinrich to match his DNA to a sweatshirt from the Cold Spring victim, then retested using DNA from 2015.

Heinrich appeared in court wearing yellow shirt, orange pants. Heinrich's defense attorney noted that Heinrich has "repeatedly denied involvement" in any sexual assault case and that his client voluntarily gave authorities his tires, shoes, and hair sample shortly after Jacob's abduction.

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