Cold Case Spotlight

Mother Pens Emotional Birthday Note to Son Jacob Wetterling Who Disappeared 26 Years Ago

Jacob Wetterling National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

On what would have been her son’s 38th birthday, Jacob Wetterling’s mother penned an emotional letter to the son who was taken from her more than 26 years ago.

Jacob was just 11 when he was abducted on October 22, 1989 near his home in central Minnesota, while he was out riding his bike.

In October, authorities named Daniel Heinrich a person of interest in connection with Jacob’s abduction. Heinrich was arrested on several unrelated child pornography charges and is scheduled to be arraigned on February 22 for a slated July 2016 trial.

Although police say he may be connected to the mysterious cold case, he’s not been charged and has denied any involvement.

Related: Person of Interest Named in 1989 Disappearance of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling

Patty Wetterling hasn’t given up hope that her son may someday return. She served on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s board for three years and continues to advocate for missing children.

You can read Patty’s note to Jacob, which was posted to the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center website earlier this week.


Birthdays are supposed to be about parties, hats and noisemakers, cake, ice cream, friends singing and making wishes but not yet. Not this year, again. How I wish to wrap my arms around you and hug you tight! I have watched the tape of your last birthday party over and over. We rented a suite at the Holiday Inn for your party. You and Aaron raced back and forth in the pool and took turns throwing each other in the deep end. It was so much fun!

I want you to know that since you were stolen away from us, people everywhere have been searching, praying and hoping for your safety and for answers. Last fall, 26 years later, news of possible answers had your story as the number two news coverage in the region. That's pretty amazing 26 years later. People care. There are more good people than bad in the world and people still hope.

My birthday wish is for you to come home. We need to find you. I have another wish for every child who is home safe today, that they will never have to endure abduction or sexual exploitation of any type. We are working just as hard on prevention as we are on searching because this is so wrong…so unfair. I remember how much it bothered you when things were unfair. Me too, it bothers me too.

I am hoping and praying that people will remember you on February 17 and we ask that everyone hug their kids a little tighter, tell them that they love them and take time to play a game or read books. My wish is also that parents will support agencies that help to find our missing kids and help other victims. Today, we ask everyone to volunteer, attend events, send financial support and share safety information. The non-profit work continues on a daily basis. Sometimes sexual exploitation and abduction are on the news, and sometimes not, yet we all rely on the support and expertise of these agencies when we need them. They are there for us. They need our support as well.

And once again today, February 17, we will light our candles, fix your favorite foods and cake, and thank God for the gift of you.

We love you Jacob and we'll never stop searching for you!

I so wish for a happy birthday for you…