Dan Rassier now wishes he'd insisted that police search his family's St. Joseph farm top to bottom the night Jacob Wetterling was abducted. That way, they would have known there was nothing to find. And it would have been harder for them to come back 21 years later to search with backhoes and declare him a "person of interest" in the case.
The Wetterling abduction story kept getting bigger as the case -- and Jacob's sweet smiling face -- served as a conduit for public fear and grief. Capitalizing on a growing sense that pedophiles lurked in every shadow, the likes of Maury Povich and Geraldo Rivera joined the cause with sensational retellings of the crime and its consequences.
The closest you can get to a conversation with Jacob Wetterling about his abduction is to talk to Jared Scheierl. Scheierl was walking home from an ice skating rink in Cold Spring in January 1989 when a man who turned out to be Danny Heinrich forced him into a car, assaulted him, and let him go, uttering some chilling parting words: "If they come close to finding out who I am, I'll find you and kill you."
When Jacob Wetterling was taken, authorities launched what would turn into one of the largest searches for any missing person in the history of the United States. But that first night, law enforcement didn't cover all the basics.
The abduction of Jacob Wetterling, which made parents more vigilant and led to the first national requirement that states track sex offenders via registries, took place before moonrise on a warm October night in 1989. At about 9:20, three boys — including 11-year-old Jacob, who loved steak, football and the color blue — rode home along a dead-end road on their bikes and scooter from the Tom Thumb store in St. Joseph, Minn., where they had rented The Naked Gun.
A flawed, confused system prevents judges, social services officials and guardians from discovering critical information about the condition of the residential treatment facilities regulated by the Department of Corrections. Mesabi Academy, scheduled to close next month, is a case study. Since opening in 1998, the juvenile correctional facility had been seen as a reliable jobs provider, receiving subsidies from government and tens of millions of dollars in loans from its parent. But attempts to sustain the business may have compromised resident and worker safety.
The decision to close Mesabi Academy raises short-term questions about where troubled boys will be sent but also longer-range questions about whether the state's system is sufficient.
The parent company of an Iron Range juvenile residential treatment center said it planned to close the facility by the end of next month. The decision came after several counties pulled residents and the state froze new admissions, actions that followed several APM Reports stories about Mesabi Academy.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections said the juvenile corrections facility agreed to suspend new admissions while an investigation proceeds into allegations of maltreatment.
DFL Sen. David Tomassoni, who represents the area that is home to Mesabi Academy, says agencies pulling boys from the facility are endangering jobs.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services is removing five boys it has jurisdiction over at the Iron Range residential treatment facility Mesabi Academy. It also told other states with boys there of its action.
Ramsey County officials said Monday they would pull the remaining 21 boys the county's courts have sent to the private correctional facility in Buhl, Minn. The action follows similar steps by Hennepin County on Friday and comes a week after APM Reports published results of an investigation into the facility, Mesabi Academy.
Hennepin County officials said Friday they're removing 20 children from a juvenile correctional facility on the Iron Range — Mesabi Academy — that's been the subject of two investigative news reports this week.
Interviews and records indicate troubling incidents and practices. Twin Cities counties are looking more closely at a facility where they've sent boys who need help.
Ramsey County social services authorities said Thursday they are not placing any more boys in the care of Mesabi Academy, a treatment facility in Buhl, Minn., in the wake of an APM Reports investigation into the center.
St. Louis County investigators asked for a tape recording a woman made of her son, talking about whether he had sex with a staffer at Mesabi Academy.
On the Iron Range, investigations have created tension between Mesabi Academy and St. Louis County. Job loss, though, was the main concern when county commissioners discouraged a health and human services leader from ending a critical contract with the company.
Two audits have found Minneapolis failed to terminate the computer accounts of some former city employees, leaving city systems vulnerable. City officials acknowledge it's a problem.
Voters in St. Paul's Ward 2 won't know who will represent them on the City Council until next week, but odds favor Planning Commissioner Rebecca Noecker. That would be something of an upset.
Minneapolis officials are mulling a referendum that would ask voters for a property tax hike dedicated to roads and other transit. It remains only an idea, but here's how it might work.
Daniel James Heinrich has denied any involvement in the case of Jacob Wetterling, the boy abducted 26 years ago near his home in St. Joseph, Minn.
Metro Transit said the officer had failed to pass his probation period as a full-time employee.
Almost six months after Major League Soccer announced that it was bringing a professional team to Minnesota, a deal has been struck to build a $120 million stadium in St. Paul's Midway.
Bids to build a controversial pedestrian bridge connecting the new Vikings Stadium to a nearby light rail station came in nearly 40 percent more than previously projected. Officials are trying to figure out their next move.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's plan to put parking meters on Grand Avenue has run into furious opposition.
Business owners are maintaining the pressure on City Hall as it considers a proposal guaranteeing paid sick leave for all workers in Minneapolis.
St. Paul officials have abandoned their push to keep negotiations over a possible Major League Soccer stadium secret.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges on Wednesday pulled back on her controversial proposal to require city businesses compensate workers for any unexpected scheduling changes.
St. Paul leaders and the Metropolitan Council are trying to limit disclosure of information related to a potential Major League Soccer stadium. One expert says the city's secrecy arguments are weak.
The new report details nearly $80,000 in additional allegedly improper spending to benefit other members of the CAM board, senior staff, Bill Davis' fiancee and a nonprofit associated with Sen. Hayden.
BNSF has sharply increased the number of trains loaded with North Dakota crude oil passing through downtown Minneapolis. BNSF says it's only temporary but the move concerns city leaders.
Cities and counties in Minnesota are increasingly setting tight limits on how long their employees must save emails. That might make government more efficient, but critics worry it will also make it easier for government to hide things.
A special election could change the balance of power on the Columbia Heights board.
Under the proposal, employers would have to compensate workers for any unexpected schedule changes. Business owners have reacted with disbelief.
Excelsior-based Oppidan Investment Co. has been chosen to redevelop the downtown building. The plan is expected to include a Minnesota Wild practice facility.
Minneapolis Park Board officials revealed Tuesday night that pumps underneath the city's Hiawatha Golf Club have dumped hundreds of millions of gallons of groundwater a year into nearby Lake Hiawatha. But it's possible they have also been breaking the law.
Advocates say the ordinance will boost voter turnout because renters move frequently and may not remember to register to vote at their new address. Some rental property owners oppose it.