Ex-FBI agent will address criticism of Wetterling probe, detail feds' role

A police lineup from the Wetterling investigation
A Jan. 26, 1990, police lineup is shown in a presentation by Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson last month.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

A former FBI special agent who worked on the Jacob Wetterling investigation in its earliest stages will address the Stearns County sheriff's recent scathing criticism of how law enforcement handled the boy's 1989 kidnapping in rural St. Joseph, Minn.

Steve Gilkerson on Tuesday morning will address "speculative conclusions" Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson made late last last month as authorities released a trove of documents relating to the investigation.

Gudmundson said the Wetterling investigation quickly went "off the rails," even arresting a drunken Danny Heinrich and letting him off the hook months after the kidnapping.

Heinrich confessed in 2016 to killing and abducting Wetterling — 27 years after the kidnapping.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

The FBI was a focus of Gudmundson's critiques. He said inexperienced FBI profilers, one "fresh out of the academy," made the call Heinrich didn't abduct Wetterling after interrogating the man.

Another FBI special agent, Al Garber, defended his agency's handling of the case.

The document dump on Sept. 20 included local and state investigation materials.

However, the FBI files remain sealed. Gudmundson said the public won't have a "good or complete understanding of the case" without information from the FBI.

Part of Gilkerson's press conference on Tuesday in Minneapolis will include "detailing" the FBI's role in the investigation.

Gilkerson's statement also said he "will raise questions as to why [Gudmundson's] press conference would distort evidence and mislead public about investigation specifics."