Minnesota man gets 20 years in prison for child porn in plea deal

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

(Reuters) - A Minnesota man was sentenced on Monday to 20 years in prison on a federal child pornography charge as part of a plea agreement earlier this year in which he confessed to assaulting and killing a boy in 1989, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Danny Heinrich, 53, was handed the sentence in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Heinrich confessed in September to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and fatally shooting 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling in October 1989, in a case that stumped investigators for decades.

12 PHOTOS
Jacob Wetterling case
See Gallery
Jacob Wetterling case
This photo released Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015 by the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office, shows Daniel Heinrich. Heinrich was arrested on federal charges stemming from a long-term child exploitation investigation. The FBI says Heinrich is a person of interest in the 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling. (AP Photo/Sherburne County Sheriff's Office,HO)
In this Aug. 28, 2009 photo, Jerry Wetterling and wife Patty, right, show a photo of their son Jacob Wetterling, who was abducted in October of 1989 in St. Joseph, Minn., and is still missing, in Minneapolis, Minn. Wetterling keeps a scrapbook of news clippings about abducted children being reunited with their families years later. It's a source of hope for Wetterling, whose son, Jacob, was abducted nearly 20 years ago in central Minnesota. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
WASHINGTON - JULY 26: (L-R) Linda Walker (L) and Patty Wetterling participate in a rally in support of the Children's Safety Act (H.R.3132) July 26, 2005 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Sections of the bill were named after Walkers' daughter, Dru Sjodin, who was kidnapped and murdered in 2003, and Wetterling's son, Jacob, who was abducted and has been missing since 1989. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The mother of abducted children, from left, Connie Larson, mother of Cally Jo Larson, Patty Wetterling, mother of Jacob Wetterling and Pam Poirier, mother of Katie Poirier, fight back tears Tuesday Dec. 21, 1999, during a press conference at the Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. The conference was held to promote the first of five proposals to come out of the Katie Poirier Abduction Task Force, which was created after the Barnum woman's abduction. It would create a comprehensive network to carry photographs,fingerprints and offender information to law enforcement officials across the state. (AP Photo/Dawn Villella)
** FILE ** Patty Wetterling, shown during a Nov. 15, 2002 news conference at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., concerning missing students, is now a high-profile, national expert on child abuse and abduction issues and is known for working amiocably with both sides of the political isle. Her son, Jacob, then 11-years-old, was abducted at gunpopint 15 years ago and remains missing. Wetterling filed paperwork Friday, April 30, 2004, with the Federal Elections Commission that would allow her to raise money for a congressional campaign. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, file)
Patty Wetterling of St. Joseph, Minn., addresses the media at a rally in support of HR 3132, The Children's Safety Act, Tuesday, July 26, 2005 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Wetterling's son Jacob disappeared in October of 1989 and has yet to be found. In the background is Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
Patty Wetterling, right, of St. Joseph, Minn. is comforted by Linda Walker, center, of Pequot Lakes, Minn., at a rally in support of HR 3132, The Children's Safety Act, Tuesday, July 26, 2005 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Wetterling's son Jacob disappeared in October of 1989 and has yet to be found. Walker's daughter Dru Sjodin was murdered in 2003. At left is Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
In this Aug. 28, 2009 photo, Jerry Wetterling and wife Patty, left, show a photo of their son Jacob Wetterling in Minneapolis, Minn. Jacob was abducted in St. Joseph, Minn. in October of 1989 and is still missing. Wetterling keeps a scrapbook of news clippings about abducted children being reunited with their families years later. It's a source of hope for Wetterling, whose son, Jacob, was abducted nearly 20 years ago in central Minnesota. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Aaron Larson, Jacob Wetterling's childhood best friend, talks about Wetterling at his home in Worthington, Minn., Sept. 23, 2009. It's been 20 years since Aaron's best friend Jacob was abducted on a rural road outside St. Joseph. Aaron has moved forward. He's gotten engaged and become a father. He served with the Army Reserves in Iraq and settled in Slayton with his family. But Aaron relives daily the moment when he lost the only best friend he's ever had. It comes back whenever he sees a child on a bike. (AP Photo/St. Cloud Times, Adam Hammer)
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, center, addresses a press conference, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Minneapolis, where federal charges stemming from a long-term child exploitation investigation were announced against Daniel Heinrich. The FBI says Heinrich is a person of interest in the 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling. Others, from left: BCA Superintendent Drew Evans, Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Thornton, right. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, right, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Thornton, arrive to address a press conference Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Minneapolis, where federal charges stemming from a long-term child exploitation investigation were announced against Daniel Heinrich. The FBI says Heinrich is a person of interest in the 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Heinrich's confession, in addition to helping lead police to the spot where he buried Wetterling's body, was part of a deal in which he pleaded guilty to a federal child pornography charge, but did not face charges in the killing.

Wetterling's parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling, became advocates for missing children after his disappearance.

In court on Monday, Heinrich apologized to the Wetterlings, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

"The heinous acts of selfishness are unforgivable ... I'm so sorry," Heinrich said, according the Star Tribune.

Heinrich was named a person of interest in the abduction of Wetterling in October 2015 and was charged with possession and receipt of child pornography.

Authorities searched Heinrich's home in July 2015, finding child pornography in three-ring binders and on a computer hard drive. They also found dozens of videotapes Heinrich appeared to have filmed of young boys delivering newspapers, playing or riding bicycles, officials said, but Wetterling's picture was not among them.

In his confession in September, Heinrich recounted shooting Wetterling twice and also admitted to sexually assaulting another 12-year-old boy.

Patty Wetterling said after the confession her son's legacy would live on and that her family needed time to heal.

"We pause to reflect on the joy and kindness Jacob brought to his family and many others," the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, a child safety advocacy organization founded by the Wetterlings after Jacob's disappearance, said in a statement on Monday.

"Today's sentencing changes nothing for the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center's mission. There is much more work to do to address and prevent the abuse and exploitation of children," the statement added.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners