Our 11th FindJodi podcast features a conversation with Patty Wetterling, Jacob Wetterling’s mother.
The 11-year-old victim’s name often comes up during discussions of Jodi Huisentruit’s case.
Jodi reported on Jacob’s 1989 abduction near his home in rural St. Joseph, MN. Jacob was biking from a convenience store with his younger brother, Trevor, and best friend Aaron Larson, when they were confronted by a masked gunman.
Jacob’s story struck close to home for Jodi, as she had grown up less than an hour away in Long Prairie, the same small town where Jacob was born.
Jodi met Jacob’s mother just months after he disappeared. Jodi was a senior at St. Cloud State University in January 1990, studying communications and broadcast journalism, when she and several college friends visited Patty at the Wetterling’s home.
They went there for Jodi to interview Patty and Jacob’s older sister. Jodi’s friend Amy Westman and her brother had spray painted “Jacob’s Hope” on the Berlin Wall a few weeks earlier, and Amy shared photos and a piece of the wall with Patty. That was the focus of the story Jodi prepared for her college news station.
Three years later, when Jodi was working at KSAX-TV in Alexandria, MN, she interviewed Patty again. This time, it was on what would have been Jacob’s 15th birthday.
Jodi’s next job after Alexandria was anchoring the morning and noon news at KIMT-TV in Mason City. IA.That’s where Jacob’s father, Jerry, grew up and where Jacob’s grandparents still lived when Jodi was abducted on her way to work on June 27, 1995.
After Jodi disappeared, her friends, including Amy Westman, immediately reached out to Patty Wetterling, asking what they should do to help get out the word about their missing friend.
When Jacob was finally found in 2016, after his killer confessed as part of an unrelated plea deal, hope deepened that Minnesota’s other high-profile missing person, Jodi Huisentruit, might also be located.
But sadly, almost 26 years after her abduction, Jodi is still missing.
In our recent conversation, Patty shared her memories of Jodi and recalled the shock of learning the young reporter who’d been to her home had been abducted.
“I do remember her — her blonde hair, her fresh eyes and huge interest in Jacob’s case,” said Patty. “My memory is (thinking) this can’t be happening. This was too close to home, too many ties to Jacob. To find that somebody who helped us so much, tried so hard to help find Jacob, was now also missing. It is sort of incomprehensible.”
Jacob’s mom, who is a nationally recognized child safety advocate and educator, appealed for answers to what happened to Jodi.
“She deserves to be found. Her family deserves to know answers. There is somebody out there who is a very dangerous person.”
She added, “I believe people can help and maybe the person who did it is ready to tell. You don’t know and we can’t assume they would never tell because (Jacob’s abductor) did.”
Anyone with information on Jodi’s case can reach out to the Mason City Police Department at (641) 421-3636. Information can also be provided to the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations at (515) 725-6010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can anonymously contact the FindJodi team here.