Patty Wetterling
Dear Jacob: A Mother's Journey of Hope

Patty Wetterling

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On October 22, 1989, in the small town of St. Joseph, Minnesota, eleven-year-old Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped at gunpoint. Twenty-seven years later, a plea deal led authorities to the boy's remains. 

Tonight, Patty Wetterling, national advocate and educator on the prevention of child abduction and exploitation, shares her personal memoir about the decades-long search for her son—and its astonishing conclusion. Join Patty and her co-author Joy Baker as they engage in a conversation moderated by their editor, Ann Regan of MNHS Press. 

A recent episode of "20/20" titled "Snatched" delves into the infamous case, when a masked, armed kidnapper abducted Jacob as he was out riding his bike with his brother and a friend near his home. The mystery left a community in shock and reshaped forever how parents around the country approached child safety.


On October 22, 1989, in the small town of St. Joseph, Minnesota, eleven-year-old Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped at gunpoint. Twenty-seven years later, on September 2, 2016, Danny Heinrich led authorities to the boy's remains. What lies between is the riveting story of the search for Jacob Wetterling, told by his mother, Patty. With down-to-earth candor, she details the investigation as it unfolds, discusses her family's struggles, and shows how she maintained her energy and optimism. For her own survival, Patty chose to focus on hope. She became a speaker, trainer, and national advocate for missing children. Her lobbying work took her to Washington, DC, where in 1994 Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Act, establishing a national sex offender registry.

In 2013 the Wetterlings were joined on their quest for answers by two unlikely allies: local blogger Joy Baker and plumber Jared Scheierl. Baker convinced Scheierl to come forward and share his story about being kidnapped from a nearby town and sexually assaulted the same year as Jacob. Together, Baker and Scheierl uncovered a string of similar assaults that had never been fully investigated. The combined efforts of this foursome led to the breakthrough that solved the case.

Jacob's kidnapping forever changed the way parents raised their children. Dear Jacob offers not only a behind-the-scenes account of one of America's most notorious crimes but also a historical account of what has been done in the years since Jacob's kidnapping to combat the problem of missing and exploited children. 

In this powerful memoir—written with Joy Baker, the local blogger—Patty Wetterling finally tells readers what happened and shows how, in searching for Jacob, she found her purpose.


Patty Wetterling is a national advocate, visionary, and educator on the prevention of child abduction and exploitation. She served on the board of directors for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children from 1991 to 2021 and was its chair from 2012 to 2015. She also co-founded Team HOPE, a national support group for families of missing children. She is now a national consultant, presenting at child abuse conferences and law enforcement trainings. Patty has received many awards, and she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Minnesotans of the Century by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1999.

Joy Baker works as an independent marketing consultant, professional copywriter, and writing coach. 


Ann Regan is acting director and editor in chief at the Minnesota Historical Society Press, the oldest publisher in the state and the largest historical society press in the country, where she has worked for many years. She acquires and edits memoirs and books on Native American studies, race and ethnic studies, politics, true crime, and general history.

Dear Jacob: A Mother's Journey of Hope By Patty Wetterling, Joy Baker (With) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781681342696
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Minnesota Historical Society Press - October 17th, 2023