Jacob Wetterling Resource Center celebrates 30th anniversary

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The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary and 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS got an exclusive update with the Wetterlings. 

The agency has a new home with the Zero Abuse Project in St.Paul.

The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center assists about 100 families with missing children every year. 

It provides victim assistant services to about 2,000 people a year and it also does an education and community training for about 10,000 people a year. 

All of this is happening because of the inspiration of Patty and Jerry Wetterling, who set out to find their abducted son Jacob more than three decades ago. 

Patty and Jerry invited 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS into their home in St. Joseph to talk about all that has happened since Jacob abduction. 

The Wetterlings say the original group to help find Jacob was called “Friends of Jacob.”

They said it was just neighbors coming together out of a sense of urgency. 

“It was very simplistic … to make communities better," Patty Wetterling said.

"The roots of the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center goes back to probably the next day or two after Jacob was taken, and some caring townspeople all started saying, 'What are we going to do?'" Jerry Wetterling said. 

On Feb. 17, 1990, people came together in St. Joseph and the Twin Cities to raise awareness about Jacob's disappearance. 

It was Jacob's birthday and also the day Patty and Jerry consider the birth of the resource center.  While the Wetterlings are not directly involved now, they do call themselves the agency's biggest cheerleaders.

 "I'm just so proud of everything they've done. I love their consistency of messaging, their vision because things have changed dramatically," said Patty. "Jacob captured the hearts of a lot of people, and it was his efforts; I think he's been driving this ship the whole time." 

"When I think of Jacob, my heart gets bigger, you know. Jacob has just been an inspiration. Lived so hearty while here and still lives on through so many people," added Jerry. 

The agency will also be opening a new headquarters with the Zero Abuse Project in St. Paul. 

Patty said she has been collecting everything about the abduction of Jacob and has been writing a book of the 30 years timeline. She said the book is to be published sometime in 2020.