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In the Dark

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Child abductions are rare crimes. And they’re typically solved. Yet after 27 years, the investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota has yielded no answers into what happened to Jacob. In the most comprehensive reporting on this case, APM Reports reveals how law enforcement has mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger, changed how adults parent their kids and led to the nation's sex-offender registries.






We're Working On Season 2

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Duration: 00:03:46

Update: A Sentencing, A Demand, No Closure

The sentencing of Danny Heinrich on Nov. 21, 2016, brought to a close the 27-year investigation into the abduction and murder of Jacob Wetterling. But it didn't end the story.

Duration: 00:38:12

9: The Truth

When Danny Heinrich confessed in court on Sept. 6 to abducting and murdering Jacob Wetterling and assaulting Jared Scheierl 27 years ago, investigators declared that at last, the public had the truth. But despite Heinrich's excruciatingly detailed accounts, the truth remains elusive. Many questions remain unanswered.

Duration: 00:43:04

8: What's Going on Down There?

In November 2012, a police officer named Tom Decker was shot and killed in Cold Spring, Minn., after getting out of his car to check on a man who lived above a bar. The man was quickly arrested and held in the Stearns County jail. He was interrogated but then released without charges. The state crime bureau later ruled him out as a suspect. Investigators turned their focus to another man, Eric Thomes, who hanged himself before he could be charged with the crime. Nearly four years after the...

Duration: 00:47:10

7: This Quiet Place

Soon after the abduction and murder of Jacob Wetterling in 1989, Stearns County sheriff's investigators came face to face with his killer, Danny Heinrich, who would confess to the crime 27 years later. Then they let him go. It wasn't the first time that had happened in Stearns County.

Duration: 00:41:38

6: Stranger Danger

In the 1970s and early '80s, missing children weren't considered a policing priority. You couldn't even enter missing child information into the FBI's national crime database. But that changed quickly.

Duration: 00:37:51

4: The Circus

The Wetterling abduction story kept getting bigger as the case served as a conduit for public fear and grief. Capitalizing on a growing sense that pedophiles lurked in every shadow, the likes of Maury Povich and Geraldo Rivera joined the cause with sensational retellings of the crime and its consequences.

Duration: 00:36:50

3: The One Who Got Away


Duration: 00:45:06

2: The Circle

If looking for 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was akin to hunting a needle in a haystack, that's because the police, the community, and even the Wetterlings themselves had created the haystack.

Duration: 00:38:00

1: The Crime

The abduction of Jacob Wetterling, which made parents more vigilant and led to the first national requirement that states track sex offenders via registries, took place before moonrise on a warm October night in 1989.

Duration: 00:35:00