Timeline in Wetterling case

by Timothy Charles Holmseth on October 1, 2018 at 8:58 PM CST

Tumeline created by Julie Tremp

The 1997 confession
In 1997 Michael and Richard Bahner confessed to their involvement of the abduction and murder of Jacob Wetterling. Michael confessed in July 1997 to retired bail agent Diane Muehlbauer in her home, while private investigator Larry Peart from Peart and Associates, and officer Todd Newman hid in another room. Diane was wearing a wire.  Larry and Todd filled out a report stating there was a confession, and they took it to the SCSD.  They were met with opposition, and ordered to change their report stating there was no confession.  Richard Bahner had confessed to inmates in jail. He alleges they chopped up Jacob and threw him in the river. The names of the inmates were Bill and Kevin. All of this is on tape.

For over twenty years Diane and Larry tried to get the 1997 evidence investigated.  Diane even went to the point of reaching out to Janet Reno, and other elected officials.  The time line is interesting, as it seems each time Diane reached out to any official outside of Stearns County, there would be some kind of development on the case.   Dan Rassier was one of those “developments”, and became a person of interest right after Jacob was abducted. Although he was questioned on multiple occasions, starting soon after Jacob was taken, there seemed to be more push on Rassier as a suspect the more Diane and Larry pushed the 1997 confession.  Some of the first questions by law enforcement were Oct. 23rd 1989.  Dan Rassier was harassed, and eventually the public knew him as the main suspect.   He was continually stalked by law enforcement, and Patty Wetterling stalked him as well.  At one point Patty tried to get him to confess, but Dan stood his ground, and continued to defend his innocence.  Law enforcement had Dan hypnotized, and repeatedly interviewed him without a lawyer present.  It’s alleged that Dan Rassier was being framed to avoid further investigation of the 1997 evidence. It’s believed Sheriff Kastreba had a lot to do with suppressing the 1997 evidence, and possibly the baton was passed onto sheriff Sanner when he was elected in 2002, as he refused to investigated said evidence also.

Michael Bahner alleges Lou Kohls abducted and murdered Jacob Wetterling, and he also alleges Jacob’s father (alleged to be his step father), put Kohls up to it.  Lou drove a burgundy car, and two witnesses saw this car speeding towards the abduction sight moments before Jacob was taken. There are more witnesses that know what happened to the burgundy car. A witness by the name of Ben Bina saw the Bahner Brothers in the ditch at the abduction sight that night.  When Bina went to tell the SCSD this information, he was harassed. It’s alleged that Jacob was taken to Brenda Bahners apartment first, and Jacob was apparently tortured.

Around 1998 a man by the name of Vern Seitz came to the St. Joseph/St. Cloud area of Minnesota, claiming he was a psychic and wanted to help find Jacob.  Someone at the Jacob Wetterling Foundation was in touch with Vern, and gave him Diane Muehlbauer’s contact information.  Vern contacted Diane and told her that Jerry had asked him to meet with her at a hotel to listen to the tapes.  Why wouldn’t Jerry want to meet with Diane himself, and why wouldn’t he ask her to meet with him at the SCSD?   Why send a serial pedophile who likes to look at child porn?  Diane met with Vern at the hotel, and she took her husband Joe Muehlbauer with her.  Vern listen to the tapes, and when they met at Kay’s Kitchen later, Vern offered her money for the tapes, but Diane refused.  The Bahners, Lou Kohls, and Vern Seitz all claimed to have known the Wetterlings for many years. PI Peart alleges there were pedophiles in and out of the Wetterling house over the years.

The investigators assigned to Jacob’s case at the SCSD were Doug
Pierce, Dan Nue, and Dave Nohner.  They worked for Sheriff Kastreba.
Dan believed Michael Bahner’s confession was credible, but was not able to investigate it.   Later Dan was forced to resign when he tried to help Diane with the 1997 evidence.  Dan said he has enough information on the SCSD to put many of those that worked there in a federal prison.  Diane recorded a conversation with Dan Nue about this.

In late 1996 Lou Kohls slipped in front of Diane when he was talking to her about the abduction of Jacob. He told Diane, “They picked Jacob because he had the biggest testicles”.  He realized he slipped, then proceeded to blame his lover Dennis Shiles. No one besides law enforcement knew about the boys being groped the night of the abduction.  How would Lou know this unless he was there? Suddenly there’s a meeting with Lou, Patty Wetterling, Diane, Larry, and Robin at Bo Diddley’s. There was a strange occurrence: Lou suddenly pointed his finger in Patty’s face and said, “It’s Not my fault”!  What’s not his fault?!

In 1999 Diane gave Patty Wetterling three tapes; one of them being the abduction tape. As far as Diane knows Patty never did anything with the tapes.  Patty did contact Denny Sigafoose from the BCA.  He was retired, but she flew him in from where he lived in New Mexico.  Apparently Sigafoose did not investigate this 1997 evidence.  In fact he down played it to the press like it may not even be credible.  PI Larry Peart was so upset that when Sigafoose came to him for a job, he refused to hire him.  Sigafoose alleges that he caught the SCSD hiding evidence.

When I got involved in December 2014, I suggested we contact The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).  I suggested this because it was obvious that Diane and Larry were struggling to get law enforcement on a local level to investigate the 1997 evidence.  Clearly, the SCSD, the BCA, and the local FBI were not investigating, and possibly suppressing evidence.  It’s quite possible the Minneapolis FBI was never made aware of this until we contacted NCMEC in late 2014.  By 1997, I’m sure the Jacob Wetterling foundation had brought in millions in donations. How was all of this money being used?  When I called in early spring 2018, there were only 3 employees working there.

Every time Diane and Larry did reach out to officials outside of the state, these officials would call the SCSD, and this is where it ended.

I got involved in Dec. 2014 after I thought a serial pedophile from Ohio looked like the sketch featured on The Hunt with John Walsh.  Through my research on the case I found Diane Muehlbauer’s name. I sent all the appropriate information to NCMEC on the Ohio pedophile, and ultimately, he could not be traced up in Minnesota.  I suggested we reach out to NCMEC on this 1997 confession/evidence.  This government agency is a clearing house for information on missing children, and act as a liaison for people calling in tips, and they are responsible for passing along information to the appropriate parties in law enforcement.  They can’t investigate, but since NCMEC’s mission is helping to find missing kids, I believed they should know about this 1997 evidence.  We worked with Richard Leonard, and he seemed to take the 1997 evidence seriously, and at one point Diane mailed the abduction-1997 confession tape to him.  He seemed quite disturbed by this, and continued in his efforts to get this information investigated by the SCSD and the FBI in Minneapolis.  Christopher Boeckers was the assigned agent to The Jacob Wetterling case.  I continued to send multiple emails to Richard at NCMEC, and we voiced our frustrations that the SCSD refused to take any action to investigate said evidence.  He passed along all emails to the appropriate parties in LE assigned to the Wetterling case.  He voiced his frustrations about getting “outside assistance involved, but to no avail.”

We continued in our efforts, and to voice our concerns about the potential dangers of 2 serial pedophiles (the Bahners), and child pornographer (Lou Kohls), being loose in society, and the dangers posed to children in the area. Michael and Richard Bahner raped and sodemized a 7 year old boy for 7 years.  Richard was convicted, but only served 2 years out of a 4 year prison sentence. Michael was put on probation after agreeing to testify against Richard.  Of course Richard B. was running his mouth to inmates about the role he played in Jacob Wetterling’s abduction.  I assume his early release from prison may be because they wanted to avoid this evidence being open to discovery.

Allegedly, Kohls was taking nude photos of his 5 year old granddaughter.  We were scratching our heads on why the SCSD or the FBI didn’t seem to take any of this seriously.

Finally,  after I reached out to assistant Minnesota US Attorney David Genrich spring of 2015, I got a call from Dennis Kearn in April 2015.  I asked him why they won’t investigate this 1997 evidence, and he said,  “We just entered some tapes 3 weeks ago”.   This information was taken to the SCSD in 1997, so why are they entering these tapes 18 years later?!  Diane got a visit from Dennis Kearn from the SCSD,  and Chris Boeckers from the Minneapolis FBI on May 6th, 2015. This visit may or may not have something to do with reaching out to Genrich. The time line is interesting, however. The meeting Diane had with Kearn and Boeckers was bizarre to say the least.  They did not look at or touch anything that was laid out before them.

This did not slow us down, and we continued in our efforts, but writing letters to various officials, and reaching out to the media.  Diane was actually followed by channel 9’s Trish VanPilsum for years, and Trish even paid a visit to Lou Kohls at one point.  Diane also was interviewed by Channel 5’s Rob Lear.  He ended up losing his job soon after the interview.

By the time October 29th, 2015 rolled around, Daniel James Heinrich was named a person of interest.  The SCSD tried to link Jacob’s case to a Cold Spring boys case.  Jared Scheierl was abducted and sexually assaulted in January 1989.  A search warrant was drafted for the Heinrich residence when they tried to link Jared’s case with Jacob’s abduction after they identified Heinrich’s DNA on Jared’s shirt .  During the search child pornography was found.  They arrested Heinrich for this, and named him a person of interest on the Wetterling case.  Interestingly, when I spoke with Jared in late 2014, he said they were looking at a guy locked up in Moose Lake, which would have been Duane Hart.  A warrant was drafted on Hart in August 2014, when they were trying to connect his case to some Paynesville sexual assault cases.  Heinrich wasn’t even on the Map, or on Jared’s radar.

Meanwhile, Diane and I continue to hammer on this 1997 evidence, and Larry Peart helped when he could.  Larry has staunchly stood behind this evidence since they got the confession.  Michael Bahner also confessed to Larry, and Michael said, “If they find out I said anything, they said they’d kill me or my family”!  Michael started to cry and shake.  Maybe it seemed more official to him when speaking to a PI.  Larry has a transcript of this confession, and it is consistent with the confession to Diane.  Michael and Richard Bahner were told they were going to the drag races when Lou approached them October 22nd, 1989.  I don’t believe they knew what they were about to be involved in.  I believe this may be one of the reasons Michael confessed.  He was angry, and felt he was roped into it.  He has said he wanted to get something off his chest. 

In the summer of 2016 Chris Boeckers paid a visit to Diane, but this time he was alone.  When he showed up he seemed like he was in a rush.  He told Diane, “I think this might be it”.    Diane persuaded him to sit and listen to a couple of the tapes.  Boeckers left with some of the tapes and evidence pertaining to the 1997 confession, and before he walked out the door he said, “You May never see me again”.   Less than 2 business days later Boeckers came back to Diane’s home, without the information and tapes, and said, “I know you want it to be the Bahners, but it’s not; Heinrich’s the guy, he took Jacob”!  While he pounded his fist on the table with a half hearted thumbs up.   Our hearts sank!   I don’t think Boeckers believed this.  He told Diane, “They’re not going to spend the time or money to investigate this”.   

Diane and I tried not to lose heart, and we continued with our efforts to get this information investigated.   We reached out the the press again…..or they reached out to her.  Madeline Baren from MPR reached out to Diane, and the two of them set up a time to meet.  Madeline was so floored by the goldmine of evidence and spoke with Diane for many hours.  She told Diane that she wanted to tape all of it.  Diane told her that she’s not buying any more tapes, and Madeline started dumping tapes into Diane and Joe’s mail box.  Madeline brought audio equipment and a photographer to take Diane’s picture.  Madeline told Diane that this would all be in the pod cast she’s releasing on Sept. 13th, 2016.  11 days prior to that Heinrich confessed.  Again, interesting timing.

The Heinrich Confession, and the inconsistencies.

Apparently Danial Heinrich lead law enforcement authorities to “
“a body” One problem: According to the findings on the warrants dated August 31st , 2016,  in the first burial sight, there were only animal remains, a red jacket, and miscellaneous fabric. On the warrant dated Sept. 2nd, in the second burial sight, “apparent bones”, boys t-shirt with the name Wetterling on it, mesh shirt, and miscellaneous fabric. In a conversation with Larry Peart, Larry said this t-shirt would not have stayed in tact and survived the elements.

I do not believe the Heinrich confession to be credible, as there are many inconsistencies on his confession transcript. 

On Sept. 6th, 2016, Danial Heinrich admitted to abducting, sexually assaulting, and killing 11 year old Jacob Wetterling.
One problem: According to the findings on the warrants, the findings were not human remains.  After studying the warrants, and comparing them to Heinrich’s transcript, there were several inconsistencies.
It’s alleged by several retired law enforcement officials that the warrants do not appear to be legal.  Witness statements were allegedly  changed, most notably the Dan Rassier warrants.  It appears that Ken McDonald customized Rassier’s warrant to fit his OCD type personality.

The inconsistencies on Heinrich’s transcript:
He claimed he used a bobcat to bury Jacob.  But, Heinrich stated earlier that he became paranoid when he saw flasher lights, and that’s why he shot jacob….because he panicked.  Why would he use a bobcat making all that noise if he was paranoid he’d been seen?

Heinrich said he came back to rebury the remains in another burial sight across the highway.  He said he didn’t need to dig up the remains, as they had already surfaced.  How can these remains resurface in a bigger hole dug with a bobcat in a year, yet for 27 years the remains didn’t surface when he dug a shallower grave in the second burial sight with a small trenching tool? 

Heinrich claims he picked up the skull, the bones, and the red jacket, then put them in a black garbage bag before he reburied the remains.  But law enforcement said they dug up the red jacket in the first burial sight, as its listed in the findings on the August 31st warrant.  There was no skull found in the second burial sight, and the skull would corroborate the bullet wound that Heinrich claims to have put into Jacob’s head. Again, there were no human remains found at either burial sight.  Diane and I, along with Larry, pointed out many of these inconsistencies to Chris Boeckers (FBI), and Richard Leonard at NCMEC.
We made it clear that we thought this whole confession by Heinrich was a big pile of BS.  Heinrich was offered a controversial plea deal in which he would not be charged for the abduction, sexual assault, and murder of Jacob Wetterling, if he lead them to his remains.  It’s alleged they found Jacob’s teeth, but no human teeth were mentioned in the findings on the warrants. 24 out of the 25 counts of child pornography were removed in the plea deal, and with good behavior Heinrich will only serve 17 years!

Diane and I were still not detoured by this poorly orchestrated coverup.
Knowing what Diane and Larry have…….the confession, the corroborating witnesses, documentation, and other information, it makes this so called Heinrich confession laughable, if it wasn’t so tragic.  This whole thing is just a huge tragedy, filled with lies, greed, and evil people.

Diane and I go back to work, and continue with our efforts.  We continue to write reporters, and we contact Madeline Baren from MPR to see what their thoughts are when they had to rewrite part of the podcast.  Baren avoided us like the plague!  Why?  Why were other reporters avoiding us?  Was the SCSD,  and those working with them trying to shut us down….shut the press down?  How can two people have such a treasure trove of evidence, and have corroborating witness statements, all this documentation, and not one reporter expresses an interest.  Who, with what amount of power, can get to so many people to shut this 1997 information down?  It’s there a mole we don’t know about…..maybe someone we’d never guess would be a mole?  I would have to think it’s something along those lines to have this shut down on so many different levels.

Starting in March 2017 a producer came wandering into the mix, and discussed doing a possible docu series.  We wasted a lot of time with him, and I’m not sure what level of a producer he is, but he wasn’t able to produce.  He tried Oxygen, A & E, and he may have tried Netflix.  None were willing to take this on.

In May of last year my husband and I drove to St. Cloud,  Minnesota to finally meet Diane and Joe in person.  We also met Larry.  We Skyped with a producer and he made a small demo video that didn’t present this well.  This is a serious matter, and if he is actually trying to help, this would not be the right way to present this evidence.  We have no idea if this coverup is just at the level of the Sheriff’s office in Stearns County, or it goes up higher than that.  The BCA has to have some level of involvement in suppressing this 1997 evidence, or they simply never knew about it.  However, they were contacted by another person, and they told her they can’t investigate the Wetterling case.  Maybe this started when Sheriff Koestreba was in office, and he passed the baton onto Sheriff Sanner, who incidentally resigned as Sheriff mid term, soon after Heinrich confessed in early Sept. 2016.

Clearly, as of Spring 2017, Diane and I are still trying to get this evidence investigated.  If what Michael Bahner is saying about Jerry Wetterling putting Lou Kohls up to abducting and killing Jacob is true, and the Wetterlings did know the Bahners, Lou Kohls. And Vern Seitz, this is very damning; not just to them personally, but to anyone who has suppressed this evidence for 20 years.  We decided to contact the new interim Sheriff (Gudmundson) and the county commissioners who said we reached the right people to help us.  This was in late May, and In early June 2017 the Wetterlings filed a law suit to have parts of the file sealed, claiming there was personal information that could hurt their family. 

Did they want the file sealed so no one would find out that serial pedophiles alleged to personally know the Wetterlings for many years?  Their reasoning was because there were over 100 pages in the file that had personal family information, and they did not want this open to the public.  This was their reasoning in June 2017.  In April 2018, their reason for sealing the file was because there were “rumors” and “tips” that the public should never see.  Which is it?

In April 2018, Judge Ann Carrott ordered all files released that did not belong to the FBI.  In early spring, after Diane reached out to Chris Boeckers to see if she could get her evidence/documents/tapes , he told her to call the SCSD to see if they’ll give them back to her.  She called Mark Mix to see if he would give this 1997 evidence back to her, and he said, They’re thumbing through it.  A couple months later she called him back, and he said the 1997 information is evidence, and she’d have to call Boeckers.  She called Boeckers, and he said he didn’t have any of this information.  When she called Mark back, he said he can’t give it back because, “It’s evidence on an open case”. 

We have tried to reach out to them a couple of times the week of June 4th, 2018.  The calls have not been returned.  Diane and I reached out Richard Leonard at NCMEC to update him on these developments, and he said to keep pushing.  I also reached out to judge Ann Carrott to enquire about the status of the file, and to let her know that SCSD investigator has informed us the case has been opened.

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