All of us who were living in Minnesota in the late 80’s remember the horror we felt upon hearing that Jacob Wetterling had been abducted while riding his bike near a small town north of the Twin Cities. At once, especially for those of us blessed with children, Jacob became ‘our child.’ We have reacted with fury and frustration as leads came up with what looked like dead-ends, as there seemed to be a dearth of valid information. It was tempting to think that Jacob had simply disappeared off the face of the earth. But everyone knew that was not so. How could a crime of such magnitude elicit so little tangible information? The answer that might be the case may be even more sinister than the question. It is that people have known, to one extent or another, just what occurred, but have not yet come forward. It may be that some of them have even sworn to the death never to tell what they know.
The arrest last week of a person of interest, Daniel Heinrich, has proved both valuable and frustrating. While evidence linked his DNA conclusively to the abduction of another boy, Jared, prior to Jacob’s disappearance, the statute of limitations on that crime had ‘run out’. There was no evidence found directly linking him to what happened to Jacob, but there was ample evidence to hold him on other grounds. I can only hope that while he is in custody he will voluntarily or unwittingly give up all the information he has. It is my gut feeling that his arrest is of as-yet untold significance.
I would like to add to this impression my feelings about experiencing the premier of an opera by Steven Paulus by the St. John’s Boys Choir in Collegeville, not far from where Jacob disappeared. This is the story of a father who is grieving over the death of his son. There was something about this theme of grief that kept calling my attention to Jacob.
Was there some sort of mystery surrounding this opera, I began to wonder? Were there somehow clues to what had happened, or the environment in which the truth had been kept secret for so long? Or was this all simply a matter of ironic coincidence?
There was something very puzzling to me about it all. To add to my perplexity was the fact that a young man, Josh Guimond, had disappeared from the St. John’s University campus in 2002:
Could there possibly be some sort of connection? Could Josh have been considered a threat by someone? Is there any possibility that anyone trying to keep the lid on what happened to Jacob tried to silence Josh? Wild thoughts perhaps, but unsettling just the same. Until there are answers, what stone do we leave unturned?
In short, has there been and is there some sort of conspiracy of silence surrounding both the abduction of Jacob and the disappearance of Josh? Is there some sort of allusion in The Star Gatherer, or is it simply a mysterious and odd coincidence that a boy and a young man disappeared not far from each other in a place where an opera about the death of a boy is the theme?