- Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2015
FBI names ‘person of interest’ in 1989 missing boy case

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minnesota man charged with child pornography after a search of his home found pictures of naked boys is also a “person of interest” in the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling, whose 1989 abduction led his parents to launch a national center to prevent child exploitation.

Daniel James Heinrich, 52, was charged Thursday with five counts of possessing or receiving child pornography. Richard Thornton, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis office, said Heinrich is a person of interest in Wetterling’s abduction, but he has not been charged in that case.

Thornton told a news conference that Heinrich was originally looked at after Wetterling’s abduction and again when investigators reviewed the cold case. Wetterling was 11 when he was abducted on Oct. 22, 1989, near his home in the central Minnesota community of St. Joseph.

“The defendant has denied any involvement in the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling,” U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said.

Authorities stopped short of calling Heinrich a suspect.


The Latest: FBI has ‘person of interest’ in 1989 kidnapping

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The latest on federal authorities in Minnesota announcing the identification of a person of interest in the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling, whose mother became a national advocate for the cause of missing children after his abduction in 1989 (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

Danny Heinrich’s white, one-story home sat empty Thursday with a white Chrysler sedan in the driveway, on a residential street corner near a school.

In the house next door, with children’s toys and strollers out front, Megan Champlin described her neighbor as “kind of a hermit,” generally leaving the house only for work or to sit in the backyard.


Judge orders risk review of sex offenders in civil program

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A federal judge ordered a risk assessment Thursday of all sex offenders in Minnesota’s restrictive civil confinement program to determine which of them can be put on a pathway for release.

Judge Donovan Frank laid out what he says must be done to fix problems with indefinite detentions that he ruled unconstitutional earlier this year.

His ruling sets a swift timetable for state officials to carry out the review and start transferring lower-risk offenders. While some evaluations must be conducted sooner, Frank said he wants the full program population reviewed by the end of 2017.

Lawyers for the state quickly filed a notice of appeal with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Gov. Mark Dayton said he hoped Frank would stay his ruling pending the appeal. State officials argue they are properly holding more than 700 offenders they consider too risky to free, even after they have served their prison terms.

In his ruling, Frank cited the state’s “decades-long history of operating an unconstitutional civil commitment program, the deeply systemic nature of the problems plaguing this state’s sex offender civil commitment scheme, and the minimal progress made toward remedying any constitutional infirmities since the start of this litigation four years ago.”


The Latest: Dayton sets collision course over sex offenders

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The latest on a federal judge’s order requiring a review of all sex offenders in Minnesota’s civil commitment program (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

Gov. Mark Dayton says he’s concerned that fast-forwarding evaluations for confined Minnesota sex offenders could put some back on the streets prematurely.

Dayton said Thursday’s mandate from a federal judge that Minnesota assess the transfers or possible discharge of civilly committed offenders isn’t wise. He says he’ll do all he can to keep dangerous offenders in secure settings.

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