The meeting took place in the summer of 2014 in the St. Cloud office of the Stearns County sheriff.
All of the key players were there: from the FBI and the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to Stearns County itself as lead agency.
The subject — Jacob Wetterling. The mission — to take another hard run at solving the decades-old mystery of what happened to the 11-year-old boy who was abducted by a masked man in the dark of an October night in 1989 and never seen again.
The decision to meet evolved from a proposal by the FBI to review the cold case in hopes of resolving one of the most shocking crimes in recent Minnesota history.
On Thursday, authorities disclosed the result of those efforts at a news conference in Minneapolis, charging Daniel James Heinrich, 52, of Annandale, Minn., with receiving and possessing child pornography and identifying him as a “person of interest” in Jacob’s disappearance.
“It was the 25th anniversary [of Jacob’s abduction] and it was a big factor in coming together again to see if there was anything more that we could or should be doing,” Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner said Friday of the 2014 meeting.
The timing was perfect.
Representatives of the three agencies met shortly before John Walsh featured the Wetterling case on his nationally televised CNN show “The Hunt,” said Kyle Loven, chief counsel for the Minneapolis FBI office. The show aired Aug. 31, 2014.
“We knew we were going to get a lot of tips,” Loven said, adding that the meeting “was an opportunity to sit down and [discuss] how we were going to address the inevitably large number of tips that would result.”
Loven declined to identify all those who attended, and does not recall them discussing suspects.