An FBI special agent detailed in federal court on Wednesday why Daniel Heinrich has suddenly emerged as the “person of interest” in the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling 26 years ago.
After hearing agent Shane Ball’s testimony, U.S. Magistrate Judge Tony Leung ruled that there was sufficient evidence to continue to detain the 52-year-old Annandale, Minn., man on charges of possessing and receiving child pornography.
Leung said Ball’s distillation of the evidence “creates quite frankly a chilling context and a gravity of danger to the community.”
Ball offered no new information beyond what was contained in 57 pages of court documents released last week, but his focus on several key elements explains why Heinrich has become the prime focus of investigators in the 1989 Wetterling abduction.
Wednesday’s session in St. Paul was Heinrich’s first court appearance since authorities publicly described him last Thursday as a “person of interest” in the disappearance of Jacob, the 11-year-old boy who was taken by a masked gunman on a rural road, not far from his St. Joseph, Minn., home.
Heinrich is not charged in the Wetterling case.