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Trial set for man implicated in Jacob Wetterling disappearance

Daniel James Heinrich has been charged in a child pornography investigation has been called a person of interest in the disappearance of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling of St. Joseph, Minn., in 1989.

MINNEAPOLIS — A man named as a person of interest in the 1989 disappearance ofJacob Wetterling pleaded not guilty Monday to 25 federal charges accusing him of possessing and receiving child pornography.

Danny James Heinrich, 52, made a brief appearance in U.S. District Court to enter his not guilty pleas. His trial on the pornography charges is scheduled for July 11.

Heinrich has not been charged with any offenses related to the Wetterling kidnapping near St. Joseph. But a search warrant unsealed when Heinrich was arrested in late October shows that investigators were at his Annandale residence this summer looking for evidence related to Wetterling's disappearance.

Jacob Wetterling

Jacob Wetterling

What investigators found were dozens of images of suspected child pornography, according to court records.

Heinrich, dressed in orange jail clothing, was in court for about five minutes Monday. He has been housed at the Sherburne County Jail since his arrest and indictment.

Court records filed at the time of his arrest provided details about several attacks on boys in the mid-to-late 1980s in the Paynesville area and the belief by the city's police chief in 1990 that Heinrich should be considered a suspect in those attacks.

Court records also show that DNA connects Heinrich to the abduction and sexual assault of a Cold Spring boy that happened nine months before the Wetterling abduction.

The Oct. 22, 1989, kidnapping launched a massive search and brought national media attention, but Wetterling was not found.

The St. Cloud Times is a news partner with Forum News Service