ANNANDALE, Minn. (AP) — A small white house that belonged to the Minnesota man who abducted and killed 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling in 1989 came crashing down Friday.
Real estate developer Tim Thone bought Danny Heinrich’s former home specifically to destroy it. While Heinrich is now in prison, his empty house was a distressing reminder to the central Minnesota community of Annandale that the man who kidnapped and killed Jacob had lived among them.
Jacob’s mother, Patty Wetterling, was in the crowd to watch a crew use heavy machinery to tear the house down.
The St. Joseph boy’s kidnapping haunted Minnesota as it went unsolved for decades. Authorities searched Heinrich’s home and arrested him on child pornography charges last year as they took a fresh look at the case. As part of a plea bargain, Heinrich publicly confessed in September after leading authorities to where he buried Jacob.
The 53-year-old was sentenced to 20 years in prison on a single child pornography count, and prosecutor’s agreed not to charge him in Jacob’s murder.
Thone has said the idea of tearing down the house came to him Dec. 10, while he watched a news story about the case. The story included a brief shot of Heinrich’s home, which was up for sale in Annandale, about 50 miles northwest of Minneapolis. Neighbors had petitioned the city to buy the house and raze it, but the city couldn’t come up with enough money.
Thone said the house reminded him of the emotional scars caused by the case, and he agreed it had to go.