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More Than 700 Attend Tearful Vigil for Jacob Wetterling

October 22, 1990

ST. JOSEPH, Minn. (AP) _ More than 700 people marked the first anniversary of the abduction of an 11-year-old boy with tears, music and testimonials, saying his absence ″crushes you inside.″

″We are not giving up, no matter what,″ Sister Pauline Fernandes said Sunday before the vigil at a church less than two miles from where Jacob Wetterling was snatched by a masked gunman on Oct. 22, 1989.

Fernandes, a Roman Catholic nun who has regularly volunteered time to the foundation working for Jacob’s return, said the anniversary has reinforced the hopes of many who believe Jacob will be found alive.

The boy’s parents, Jerry and Patty Wetterling, attended Sunday’s vigil but did not speak to the crowd about 700. They also were to attend a tree planting ceremony this afternoon at Centennial Park in St. Joseph to mark the anniversary.

Carol Keller of St. Augusta, a frequent volunteer at the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, said supporters of the family are still working hard to keep the public aware of Jacob’s abduction. The foundation continues to average about 2,000 mailings a day, she said.

″He’s coming back, that’s a promise,″ Mrs. Keller said.

″Jacob we miss you, we want you home,″ Ron Marotte, a director of the foundation, said Sunday night at the vigil at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

″Can I say something to him?″ Dottie Bradford, 33, of Key Biscayne, Fla., asked minutes before the vigil. ″Everybody loves you and we hope you’re home soon.″

Bradford said she hasn’t been able to keep Jacob out of her thoughts since she heard of his plight on a television show.

″Just looking at (pictures of) his face it kind of takes your heart,″ she said. ″The best way to sum it up is that it crushes you inside.″

Stearns County Sheriff Charlie Grafft said a nationwide search for the boy has failed to find a trace of him. He said a new suspect was being checked out, but said people should not get their hopes up unduly.

At the vigil, the congregation prayed for the boy’s protection and return.

″Bless the abductor with your love and forgiveness so that Jacob may be released to his family,″ the group said in a prayer that many in the town of 1,300 have memorized.

The Minnesota Gospel Twins called for people in the church to start a three-day fast and sang ″He Has Never Failed Yet.″

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