This photo dates back more than 25 years, to the early phases of a long nightmare for the Jacob Wetterling family. Nine-year-old Jacob Wetterling vanished in 1989, and the long nightmare came to an end in early September when Daniel Heinrich confessed to kidnapping and killing the boy.
Longtime legislator Cal Larson, serving in the State Senate at the time, invited the Wetterlings to the St. Paul state capital for a visit. The photo above is from January, 1990, only a few months after Jacob disappeared, with Patty and Jerry Wetterling pictured with Larson at right.
The Wetterlings went on to be activists, and formed the Wetterling Foundation.
Cal Larson, Fergus Falls and longtime Franklin Lake seasonal resident, in the Pelican Rapids area, brought in the photo–which he uncovered while cleaning up files from his long tenure in the legislature.
Larson recalled how the Wetterling abduction case changed forever the sense of safety for families everywhere, but especially in rural communities and small towns–which was the environment where Wetterling was abducted. Cal recalled his own youth and young adulthood–when he thought nothing of hitchhiking from Ohio to Illinois as a young sailor in the U.S. Navy. Few hitchhike anymore; and even fewer pick up hitchhikers. And few parents allow children to roam free in what were once viewed as safe neighborhoods–largely as a result of the awareness raised by the Wetterling case.