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Break in Patz brings hope, tears to other families

By Allen G. Breed

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 26 2012 10:21 p.m. MDT

Police brought out a cadaver dog. No trace was ever found.

Moore says she stopped contacting the police years ago.

"They keep trying to get me to confess to murder," she says incredulously. "I understand that there's mothers out there that do things like this. It makes me sick. I mean, how a mother can do something like that to their own flesh and blood, I'll never understand it."

She says her other two children believe the rumors. They are estranged.

She believes Kelly is still alive. If not, she takes comfort in the thought that he is "one of God's little angels."

"I shouldn't have let him go out in the yard and play that day," she says through her tears. "But I did. It's just stuff that we do, and we can't take it back. I wish we could, but we can't."

The outgoing message on the Wetterlings' answering machine says it all.

"Hope is an amazing force that we all need in our lives EVERY day," Patty Wetterling's voice declares.

The evening of Oct. 22, 1989, she and her chiropractor husband, Jerry, were going out to visit with friends. They asked Jacob, 11, to baby-sit his two younger siblings — Trevor, 10, and Carmen, 8.

They called home to give Jacob the phone number where they were, in case of an emergency. Not long afterward, the children called to say they were bored, and to ask permission to ride their bikes to the video store — about a mile away.

"No," their mother said instinctively. "Find something to do at home."

Trevor asked to speak to their dad. He promised they would take a flashlight; Jake would wear the father's reflective jogging vest.

The parents conferred, then acquiesced. When Jacob called back around 8:30 to say that Carmen didn't want to come, the Wetterlings agreed with his solution to have the 13-year-old neighbor girl sit with her until they got back with the movie.

"It should have been OK," she says.

The brothers and a friend made it to the store, where they chose their movie — Leslie Nielsen's cop comedy, "The Naked Gun" — and bought some candy. They were about halfway home when, the other two boys told authorities, a masked gunman emerged from a driveway.

He ordered them to throw their bikes into a ditch and lie down. After asking each boy his age, he told Trevor and the friend to run toward the nearby woods and not look back.

But after a short distance, they did turn around — just in time to see the man leading Jacob away by the elbow.

There have been many leads over the years.

"We have had leads in the last two weeks," Wetterling says.

Wetterling was a stay-at-home mom when Jake vanished. Today, she is director of sexual violence prevention for the Minnesota Department of Health.

She takes heart in the fact that a relative turned in the man now charged with murdering Etan.

"We all need answers," she says of her family, the Patzes and all the others. "We believe somebody else knows something ... They've also carried an awful heavy load, and it's time to come forward."

But that doesn't mean she has given up on finding Jacob alive.

"I'm not just looking for a murderer to come forward; I'm looking for information," she says. "I pray for that."

Online: Ilene Misheloff's search page: www.find-ilene.org

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