on a dark road in central Minnesota on the night of October 22, 1989.
Jacob had been at home with his two younger siblings, Trevor, 10, and Carmen, 8, and Jacob's friend Aaron Larsen, 11, while Patty and Jerry Wetterling attended a dinner party about 20 minutes away.
Wetterling, who lived in rural St. Joseph, his brother and a friend were coming home from a convenience store on bikes and a scooter when a man wearing a stocking mask and holding a gun approached.
The man asked the boys their ages, grabbed Jacob and told the others to run into the woods or else he'd shoot, Jacob's father has said, recounting what his other son told police.
The case garnered worldwide attention and was recently featured on the CNN series "The Hunt with John Walsh
As news of the disappearance spread, FBI agents and National Guard troops descended on St. Joseph to aid in the search.
Tens of thousands of tips surfaced in the weeks that followed, but none led to an arrest or, until now, discovery of the boy's remains.
In October 2015, authorities announced a development
: Child pornography suspect Danny James Heinrich, 52, was questioned in the abduction.
Investigators interviewed Heinrich about Jacob's disappearance, according to Andrew M. Luger, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota. Heinrich denied any involvement in the disappearance, authorities said.
At that time, no charges were filed in the Wetterling case.
Mother becomes advocate
Since her son's kidnapping, Patty Wetterling
helped create the sex offender registry for Minnesota and subsequently for the nation.
She also helped build Team HOPE -- Help Offering Parents Empowerment -- a parent-to-parent mentoring program for mothers and fathers in similar situations.
"Most parents know nothing about child abduction, so when it happens you just scramble for what's out there," Wetterling said in 2014.
Jacob would have turned 38 in February.
"Jacob was a fun, active, athletic, kind, 11-year-old boy who loved peanut butter and football," his mother wrote in 2014. "He was most known for his sense of fairness."
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement saying, "Today, we continue to offer our love and support, as the Wetterling family finally brings their son home to rest."
The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, a foundation that provides education on the exploitation of children, said Saturday: "We are in deep grief. We didn't want Jacob's story to end this way."