Julie Nelson interviews Wetterling 'person of interest'

2:50 PM, Oct 6, 2010   |    comments
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COLD SPRING, Minn.  --  For 21 years Dan Rassier has lived under a cloud of suspicion. He has been called, by police, a person of interest in the Jacob Wetterling case.

Julie Nelson sat down with the 54-year-old, who lives with his parents on the family farm in St. Joseph. Rassier described himself as an avid runner and hard worker.

"I keep myself very busy and on task, probably too much of the time," said Rassier.

Rassier has also been busy over the years defending his innocence in connection to Jacob Wetterling's disappearance.

"Why do you think they've kept you as a person of interest for so long in the Jacob Wetterling case?" asks Nelson.

"I'm single, living at home with my parents, some people see that as a mark of failure," said Rassier. "I don't have a good alibi," he added.

Rassier was home alone on October 22, 1989, the night a masked gunman appeared by the mailbox of the Rassier farm and ordered Jacob off his bike. Rassier remembers that day.

"One of my memories is it was just a splendid day for running," he said.

Rassier claims that is what he did the day Jacob went missing. He also says he was updating the index cards he used to organize his record collection.

"I was typing on those cards basically most of the day, if I wasn't outside running," said Rassier.

He doesn't remember what time he went to bed, but says he does remember waking up to the family dog barking.

"And being alone and thinking, well, I better check this out, and there are flashlights in the woods by our woodpiles. I really pretty much panicked. I had no idea what was going on," said Rassier.

Much has been made of what Rassier did after that. Some news reports said he just went back to bed. Rassier, however, says he went outside, grabbed a flashlight, and searched all the outbuildings on the farm.

"I did quite a bit of searching...Did I sleep? I did eventually go to sleep but at that point it was like, what can I do? I remember getting back out of bed and going, wow, now they're down in the gravel pit with a spotlight and thinking, Should I go down there? But, I didn't. I regret that."

The next day investigators pulled Rassier, a music teacher in the  Rocori School District, out of his classroom.

"When they checked my car out I remember thinking, Wow, maybe I'm not a witness," he said.

"What did you think when you realized they're looking at me?" asked Nelson.

"I remember thinking, well, they have to check me out. I mean, that's alright, yeah," said Rassier.

Twenty-one years later and police are still checking out Dan Rassier. He says he willingly submitted a DNA sample, took a lie detector test, and even underwent hypnosis. He does not know the results of those tests, but knows his family thinks he's been too forthcoming.

"Part of my problem, and my family would agree with this, is I've been too willing to give them information," he said.

"And your reason for that is?" asked Nelson.

"I have nothing to hide and I want them to solve the case," he replied.

"Did you have anything to do with Jacob's disappearance?" asked Nelson.

"The easy answer is to say, I have absolutely nothing to do with the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling. I can't even believe it's being talked about 21 years ago. I've been trying to help solve the case for 21 years. My problem is I cannot prove with physical evidence and witnesses that I did not do it," said Rassier.

Tuesday at 10 p.m.

Dan Rassier talks about his face to face conversation with Jacob's mother Patty Wetterling.

"She wanted to have really direct answers eye to eye with me. As you know about me, I like to joke around and was it a prank that went bad, close to Halloween?  And, I assured her, no. I think she asked that a number of times. 'Did you do it?' and the answer is, no. No. No."

(Copyright 2010 by KARE 11. All Rights Reserved.)

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