US & Canada

Jacob Wetterling: US man admits decades-old child killing

Patty and Jerry Wetterling hold up a picture of their son Jacob Image copyright AP
Image caption Jacob Wetterling's murder was unsolved for almost 27 years

A US man has admitted abducting and killing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling nearly 27 years ago, a case that led to changes in national sex offender laws.

Danny Heinrich made the confession as he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in a Minneapolis court.

Days ago he led investigators to Wetterling's remains. He had been named a person of interest in October 2015.

After her son vanished, Patty Wetterling became an advocate for missing children.

She and husband Jerry set up the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, which aims to prevent the exploitation of children.

In 1994, congress passed laws bearing Jacob Wetterling's name that require states to establish sex offender registries.

Jacob Wetterling was abducted by a masked gunman in 1989 cycling home from a video store with his brother and a friend in the city of St Joseph.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Danny Heinrich confessed in court to Wetterling's murder

Asked whether he had abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered Jacob, Heinrich, 53, said: "Yes I did.''

With Wetterling's parents looking on, Heinrich explained how he had carried out the crime.

He said that when he had brought the boy into his car, Wetterling had asked: "What did I do wrong?"

A plea deal for Heinrich calls for no charges in the boy's death. He faces 20 years on the child pornography count.

Ms Wetterling said she had never given up hope her son would be found alive.

"Our family is drawing strength from all your love & support," she tweeted after his body was found. "We're struggling with words at this time. Thank you for your hope."

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