Man buys child-killer's home so he can tear it down

Residents say house was distressing reminder murderer Danny Heinrich lived among them

Katie Forster
Saturday 24 December 2016 14:54
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Screenshot from Fox News footage showing the demolition of the house where Danny Heinrich once lived
Screenshot from Fox News footage showing the demolition of the house where Danny Heinrich once lived

The home of a man who murdered an 11-year-old has been demolished by a property developer who bought the house specifically to destroy it.

Danny Heinrich abducted and killed James Wetterling in 1989, but the crime went unsolved until last year when he confessed after police reopened the investigation.

The 53-year-old was sentenced to 20 years in prison in November, leaving his detached white house in Annandale in the US state of Minnesota standing empty.

Residents campaigned for the city to demolish the house, which they said was a distressing reminder that the man who kidnapped and killed Jacob had lived among them.

However, the town could not raise enough money to buy it.

Real estate developer Tim Thone bought the house for $57,000 (£46,000) after seeing the story on TV news two weeks ago.

“I was literally on my couch and saw Jacob’s picture, Mrs Wetterling’s picture and the house,” he told Fox News.

Tim Thorne, the property developer who bought the house

“[I] said, ‘why do they keep showing the house? They shouldn’t show the house. I’m going to go and buy the house to tear it down’.”

Patty Wetterling, Jacob’s mother, was among the small crowd to gathered to watch as a crew used heavy machinery to raze the house to the ground.

Authorities searched Heinrich's home and arrested him on child pornography charges last year, but prosecutors agreed not to charge him in Jacob’s murder as part of a plea bargain in which Heinrich publicly confessed and led authorities to where he buried Jacob.

The Annandale house before demolition

“I'm happy the house will be torn down,” next door neighbor Megan Champlin told ABC News before the demolition.

“You still have people drive by during the summer when we are outside playing and you know what they are looking at, so it will be nice for peace of mind.

“You know, you don't have to look at that house anymore and think, 'Oh man, I can't believe he lived there.'“

Local governor Mark Dayton helped to speed up the foreclosure process with the support of the Wetterling family and the land will now be donated back to the city.

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