Patty Wetterling: 'Miracles can happen' - KMSP-TV

Patty Wetterling: 'Miracles can happen'

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The porch light shines at the Wetterling home. The porch light shines at the Wetterling home.
Jacob Wetterling, 11 Jacob Wetterling, 11
Age-enhanced estimate of Jacob Wetterling at 35 Age-enhanced estimate of Jacob Wetterling at 35
ST. JOSEPH, Minn. (KMSP) -

The past 24 years have been filled with heartache and uncertainty for Patty Wetterling because she still doesn't know what happened to her son Jacob on Oct. 22, 1989.

"I remember so much and then it blurs," Wetterling told Fox 9 News. "I was probably technically in shock."

Jacob was 11 years old, riding his bike with a brother and a friend to his St. Joseph home when he was snatched at gunpoint, never to be seen again.

"We will never stop in our search for Jacob," his mother vowed. "We believe the possibility that he is still out there."

To this day, the case remains open -- and to this day, the Wetterlings flick on their porch light as a symbol of their hope that he will be found.

"One day, I want to look him in the eye and say, 'I never gave up,'" Wetterling said.

Knowing just how disrupting the disappearance of a child can be, Wetterling has used her experience to try to keep other families from having to endure a similar struggle.

"Our lives changed in every aspect," she said. "There is nothing that is the same."

Now, she is the chair of the board for the national Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In that capacity, she follows high-profile cases of missing children who surface and are returned to their loved ones years later -- including the case of three women released from captivity in Cleveland in May. Currently, she's keeping her eye on the little girl named Maria who was believed to be kidnapped and was found living in a gypsy community in Greece.

"They do give me great hope," Wetterling said of the finds.

Even after 24 years, Wetterling said she believes miracles can happen. In light of that, she is asking her neighbors, friends and other Minnesotans to turn on their porch lights on Tuesday night to remember Jacob and let the good in the world shine.

"There really are more good people who care about one another than bad," Wetterling insisted. "If good people pull together, it's amazing what can happen."

The Wetterlings spend the anniversary of the abduction together as a large family, and their outdoor lights will be on this evening. As is her tradition, Wetterling also baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies and delivered them to the Stearns County Sheriff's Office.

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