The remains of a Minnesota boy who went missing nearly 27 years ago have been found.
In October 1989, then 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted while riding his bike home from a convenience store, KARE reports. He was with his brother and a friend on a rural road when a masked man approached them with a gun. He threatened the other two boys and told them to run into the woods, or he would shoot them. They followed his orders.
The masked man then took Jacob and disappeared.
His mother Patricia Wetterling and her husband have been searching for Jacob ever since.
The Ramsey County medical examiner and a forensic odontologist examined the found remains to verify that they belonged to the missing boy.
The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a Sept. 3 statement that the remains are Jacob’s, but did not release information on where they were found.
"All I can confirm is that Jacob has been found and our hearts are broken," Patricia told KARE via text message. "I am not responding to any media yet as I have no words."
On Twitter, Patricia expressed her thanks to those who have shown her family support.
“Our family is drawing strength from all your love [and] support," she tweeted on Sept. 3. "We're struggling with words at this time. Thank you for your hope. #jacobshope."
Danny Heinrich, 53, a person of interest in the case, led FBI investigators to Jacob’s remains, according to KARE sources.
Police arrested Heinrich in 2015 and subsequently declared him a person of interest in Jacob's case. In his home, authorities found 19 three-ring binders of child pornography. A DNA sample tied him to the kidnapping of another boy from the same area and time as Jacob's abduction.
Authorities did not find evidence in Heinrich’s home connecting him to Jacob.
Jacob’s abduction led to the 1994 Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, which requires sex offender registries and guidelines exist in every state, according to CNN.
The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center issued a statement on Sept. 3 on its Facebook page following the news of his remains being found:
We are in deep grief. We didn’t want Jacob’s story to end this way. In this moment of pain and shock, we go back to the beginning. The Wetterlings had a choice to walk into bitterness and anger or to walk into a light of what could be, a light of hope. Their choice changed the world.
Heinrich is incarcerated and awaiting trial on child pornography charges. Authorities have not charged him in Jacob’s case.