I know the opinion page editors want to allow the expression of a variety of viewpoints, but the lead letter on Sept. 8 about the prosecution of Jacob Wetterling’s killer (“Citizens cannot abide this plea deal”) seems designed to ramp up outrage, not to enlighten at all.
How did the letter writer propose to get Danny Heinrich to reveal where the body was, providing proof of a murder so that he could then be charged with it? Torture? Waterboarding? Waterboarding 183 times?
Editors should have made the writer address that question before printing his letter. I think the Star Tribune does an overall very good job, but this was a disappointment.
John Shockley, Minneapolis
Editor’s note: In addition to wanting to reflect the range of views we receive, we give particular consideration to letters and commentaries that are at odds with the positions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board (“Justice served in Wetterling plea deal,” Sept. 8). Here are more:
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Wonderful! Here is a man, somewhat less than human, who abuses a frightened boy, then shoots him in the head and buries him. For 27 years, he successfully eludes police investigations, questionings and surveillance while living in relatively conscienceless comfort, if he even has a conscience. He is totally free of retribution or consequence of any kind for his scurrilous act.
Now, he comes forward with a completely detailed confession, no remorse — this is what happened and how. Everyone is exulted; closure. At last the mystery of Jacob Wetterling is revealed by the insidious perpetrator himself, now a poor, sick old man alone with no future, no help at home.
His penalty? One that fits the crime? Not justice; he gets a reward! The rest of his life with a roof over his head, three nutritious meals a day, free laundry, free medical care, TV, the internet, gym and exercise.
R.W. Hanson, Eden Prairie
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For those who question whether justice was served in the Wetterling case: Please consider weighing in only after having your child abducted and waiting 27 years to find out what happened to him.
Jennifer Kunze, Minneapolis
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After reading about the Wetterling case as well as so many others, it is beyond me how anyone could argue against the death penalty. I guess I will just never understand, because this Heinrich guy should no longer be free to walk this Earth, jail or otherwise.
Dave Colburn, Hayfield, Minn.
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After the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s history of criticizing the civil commitment statute, it now finds that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program really does have a purpose. Twenty years from now the Editorial Board expects the program to manage Jacob’s killer. Well, we do not have to wait; his commitment could be done today, unless of course the Editorial Board’s favorite federal judge gets his way and finds it unconstitutional.
Ray Schmitz, Rochester
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Lynn Nelson, in a Sept. 7 commentary (“What can we do now to show how much we care?”), proposes with regard to sex offender registration laws that placing the concerns of community members “over the rights of sex offenders” is “critical to maintaining safe communities.” When treated by mental health professionals, this group of citizens has among the lowest rates of recommitting crimes. At this time, when efforts are made to turn back “religious freedom” laws that discriminate against LGBTQ citizens and efforts are made protect the voting rights of racial minorities, why do we support removing the rights of other citizens? Fear alone should never dictate public policy.
Brin Hanninen, Minneapolis
This courageous man should be praised (and should get justice)
Throughout the Jacob Wetterling investigation, there have been many heroes. Jared Scheierl of Cold Spring, Minn., who was also kidnapped and sexually assaulted by Danny Heinrich, has proven to be an exceptional help in the complex legal process of identifying this monster as the one who killed Jacob. Scheierl has been a steady, calming force throughout. The fact that he was able to get married and raise three children while having the memory of his terrorizing abduction is extraordinary.
During this time, he also went to great lengths in assisting the Wetterling investigation. It speaks volumes about the character of this gentle soul. As stated in the many news reports, his purpose is to help other children who have been molested and assaulted so they can find healing and comfort. I have the utmost regard for Jared Scheierl, and hope that others give this wonderful man all the time, attention and resources he needs to make his worthy initiative come alive.
Sharon E. Carlson, Andover
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As we weep for the Wetterlings, I have one question for our lawmakers: Why in the world is there a statute of limitations on raping a child? Jared Scheierl deserves justice regardless of how long it took to find the monster who took his innocence. Wake up, lawmakers! Stop debating bills containing ridiculous laws and correct this misjustice. Heinrich shouldn’t avoid the consequences of changing a child’s life.
Tami Carpenter, Plymouth
A tragic story is reported, and a columnist turns to ridicule
On Tuesday of this week, I listened to KARE-TV anchor Jana Shortal’s “Breaking the News” report regarding the newly released details of the Jacob Wetterling murder case. My heart was heavy and so very sad for Jacob’s family and friends.
Patty Wetterling apologized to her son in the news conference that followed for not being able to protect him from that monster. She asked that we all do kind things and be kind to each other in Jacob’s memory.
On Wednesday, an item by Star Tribune columnist C.J. on the newspaper’s website ridiculed Jana for the clothing she wore while reporting this horrible news.
Seriously? C.J., who has the power of the pen and thousands of readers, chose to focus on “skinny jeans” rather than on the horrible death of an innocent 11-year-old boy.
Shame on her.
Beth Rosby, Brooklyn Park
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Who besides C.J. gives a flying fig what Jana Shortal was wearing when she did her job on “Breaking the News” the night that Jacob Wetterling’s killer confessed? Nobody, that’s who.
Susan Weyrauch, Eden Prairie
Editor’s note: The item to which the letter writers refer was posted Wednesday at StarTribune.com, then deleted. It did not appear in the printed newspaper. On the website and on social media, newsroom editors wrote: “The piece was inappropriate, insensitive and did not meet the standards of the Star Tribune. We have apologized to Ms. Shortal and her station. And we apologize to you.” C.J. posted an apology on the website on Thursday.
Wrestling coach looked after his student-athletes, not himself
Through all of the reporting on the case of University of Minnesota wrestling coach J Robinson (“U wrestling coach fired over drug probe clash,” Sept. 8), it has appeared to me that the university’s main interest has been its appearance in the community, while Robinson’s interest has been his student-athletes. Through his attorney, Robinson said, “We need to help these kids, not hang a felony around their necks.” At any point, Robinson could have turned over the names of the kids and other evidence in his possession and presumably saved his job. Instead, he chose to protect the kids, which cost him his job.
John W. O’Reilly, Hinckley, Minn.