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Remains of Jacob Wetterling may have been found

Jacob Wetterling File photo/Center for Missing and Exploited Children

ST. JOSEPH, Minn. — After nearly 27 years of not knowing what happened to Jacob Wetterling — the 11-year-old boy abducted on a dirt road in 1989 near his home in rural St. Joseph — there are reports today the boy's remains may have been found.

According to multiple Twin Cities media reports, during the last two days a key suspect in the case — Danny Heinrich of Annandale, Minn. — reportedly led authorities to a Stearns County site where law enforcement have found remains that are being tested for identification.

Daniel James HeinrichKARE 11 news is reporting that Wetterling's mother, Patty Wetterling, has confirmed the remains are that of her son.

In a brief text message to media, Wetterling said, "Our hearts are broken. We have no words."

Heinrich had lived in nearby Paynesville in the past and had been linked to a string of sexual assaults on young boys from that town during the late 1980s, as well as the 1989 abduction and assault of a Cold Spring boy, Jared Scheierl, who escaped.

Scheierl has been vocal in recent years about telling his story and last year DNA from that attack was linked to Heinrich.

Heinrich has been in federal custody since October 2015 on child pornography charges. Because the statute of limitations had expired, Henrich could not be charged in the assault on Scheierl, but he had continued to be a person of interest in the Wetterling case.

It's being reported today that Heinrich was taken from prison on two occasions this week to show authorities where they could find Wetterling's body.

Heinrich was arrested in October and later charged with 25 counts of possessing and receiving child pornography; he pleaded not guilty to those charges in February in U.S. District Court.