Court documents say 52-year-old Daniel James Heinrich of Annandale has been charged with receipt and possession of child pornography.
Richard Thornton, the FBI Special Agent in Charge, said Heinrich is considered a “person of interest” in the Wetterling abduction, although investigators have emphasized that Heinrich has only been charged with child pornography at this point.
However, if convicted, Heinrich will serve a “significant” prison sentence for the child pornography charges, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says a search warrant was executed at Heinrich’s Annandale home on July 28 regarding the Jan. 13, 1989, kidnapping and sexual assault of a Cold Spring boy and the Oct. 22, 1989, abduction of a St. Joseph Township boy, which is Wetterling.
Investigators say they found more than 100 pictures of suspected child pornography at the home. They say they found 19 three-ring binders that were full of images of children, including naked, young boys. Some of them were known child victims, Luger said.
They also found hours of videos, apparently recorded by Heinrich, of neighborhood children delivering newspapers, riding bikes, playing on playgrounds and participating in sports.
Investigators also say recently-tested clothes worn by the boy in the 1989 Cold Spring abduction and sexual assault was found to contain Heinrich’s DNA. Heinrich can’t be charged in the Cold Spring case because of the statute of limitations, Luger said.
Luger said Heinrich was interviewed by investigators about the disappearance of Wetterling, and he denied any involvement in it. Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner also said Heinrich was looked at “very closely” in 1989 and 1990, and that he is “not someone new to us.”
Wetterling's parents released a statement about the development, saying, in part, “The Wetterling family would like to thank all involved in the investigation of Danny Heinrich and his crimes against children. The search for Jacob is an ongoing investigation and we will watch and learn with everyone else.”
See the full family statement here.
Luger said Heinrich could have a detention hearing Friday or Monday.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office or the FBI.
“Even if you don’t believe your information is relevant, let the investigators make that decision,” Thornton said.