Dear Jacob: A Mother's Journey of Hope

Dear Jacob: A Mother's Journey of Hope

Dear Jacob: A Mother's Journey of Hope

Dear Jacob: A Mother's Journey of Hope


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With stunning detail, Patty Wetterling shares the untold story of the 27-year search for her son Jacob—and its astonishing conclusion.

On October 22, 1989, in the small town of St. Joseph, Minnesota, eleven-year-old Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped at gunpoint. Twenty-seven years later, on September 2, 2016, Danny Heinrich led authorities to the boy’s remains.

What lies between is the riveting story of the search for Jacob Wetterling, told by his mother, Patty. With down-to-earth candor, she details the investigation as it unfolds, discusses her family’s struggles, and shows how she maintained her energy and optimism.

For her own survival, Patty chose to focus on hope. She became a speaker, trainer, and national advocate for missing children. Her lobbying work took her to Washington, DC, where in 1994 Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Act, establishing a national sex offender registry.

In 2013 the Wetterlings were joined on their quest for answers by two unlikely allies: local blogger Joy Baker and plumber Jared Scheierl. Baker convinced Scheierl to come forward and share his story about being kidnapped from a nearby town and sexually assaulted the same year as Jacob. Together, Baker and Scheierl uncovered a string of similar assaults that had never been fully investigated. The combined efforts of this foursome led to the breakthrough that solved the case.

Jacob's kidnapping forever changed the way parents raised their children. Dear Jacob offers not only a behind-the-scenes account of one of America's most notorious crimes but also a historical account of what has been done in the years since Jacob's kidnapping to combat the problem of missing and exploited children.

In this powerful memoir—written with Joy Baker, the local blogger—Patty Wetterling finally tells readers what happened and shows how, in searching for Jacob, she found her purpose.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681342696
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Publication date: 10/17/2023
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 17,214
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Patty Wetterling is a national advocate, visionary, and educator on the prevention of child abduction and exploitation. She served on the board of directors for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children from 1991 to 2021 and was its chair from 2012 to 2015. She also co-founded Team HOPE, a national support group for families of missing children. She is now a national consultant, presenting at child abuse conferences and law enforcement trainings. Patty has received many awards, and she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Minnesotans of the Century by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1999.

Joy Baker, the writer, blogger, and investigative journalist who uncovered key evidence in Jacob’s case, blogs at She holds a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota and, for 20 years, was co-owner of a central Minnesota advertising agency. Joy works as an independent marketing consultant, professional copywriter, and writing coach. Her work on Jacob’s case has been featured in print and broadcast media as well as true crime podcasts.

Read an Excerpt

"We’re going to need a recent picture of Jacob," Detective Mund told us.

I got up and took his framed fifth-grade photo off the wall. He was wearing his favorite yellow sweater, which complemented his deep blue eyes.

"Will this work?" I asked. "It’s from last year. They haven’t gotten their new school pictures back yet."

I took the photo out of the frame and handed it to him. Removing Jacob’s picture from the cluster of school pictures on the wall felt horrible. The blank space only made it more jarring and obvious that one of our children was missing.

Next, the investigators wanted to see Jacob’s room. I was almost afraid to let them go in there because, suddenly, it seemed so personal—even sacred. This was where Jacob and Trevor slept, played with their friends, talked to their parakeets Polly and Petey, and got ready for school. Now it felt like a crime scene. Could Trevor even go in there anymore? Was I supposed to keep people out? How do you “crime-scene-ize” your child’s bedroom?

They also needed clothing he had recently worn for the search-and-rescue dogs that would be coming. My boys were awesome in their messiness, so Jacob’s dirty clothes were strewn together on the floor with Trevor’s. It took a little while for me to isolate something that was just his.

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