Attorneys are seeking to depose Jacob Wetterling’s confessed killer as part of a lawsuit brought by a man wrongly named as a “person of interest” in the infamous child abduction case.
Daniel Rassier is suing Stearns County officials in federal court, claiming authorities defamed him years into the Wetterling investigation when, in 2010, they searched his St. Joseph farm with backhoes, trucks and dogs near the spot where 11-year-old Jacob was abducted in 1989 and made it evident that Rassier was a “person of interest” in the case. The lawsuit says law enforcement wrongly suspected Rassier, partly in retribution for comments he had made about authorities doing a poor job of investigating the case.
In 2016, Danny Heinrich admitted to Wetterling’s kidnapping and murder.
In court papers filed Tuesday as part of Rassier’s civil suit, attorneys are seeking to depose Heinrich to ask him about details of the investigation, including the cars he drove around the time of the abduction. Rassier had told authorities he had spotted two different cars in his driveway on that date.
Rassier’s attorneys also want to ask Heinrich whether he is responsible for another attempted abduction in St. Joseph Township in July 1989 and whether he was ever questioned about it.
“Heinrich was candid in his admissions in September, 2016,” the court papers say. “Whether he will be candid about these additional issues when deposed remains to be seen, but the statute of limitations has run [out] long ago for these matters for which criminal conduct would have applied in the past.”
A hearing is set to decide the deposition issue on Dec. 12.
Heinrich, who led authorities to Jacob’s remains, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on child pornography charges; a plea agreement called for no charges in the 1989 crimes against Wetterling and against Jared Scheierl, who was molested by Heinrich in nearby Cold Spring earlier that year.