When does a cold case become a failed investigation?

Jan 12, 2017

On the next KSUT Sunday Special, the final installment of the five-part series from APM Reports, examining how law enforcement handled the kidnapping of an 11-year-old Minnesota boy – a case that went unsolved for nearly 27 years.

In the Dark is a five-part series from the investigative journalists at APM Reports.

In the Dark goes beyond the horror of the story to reveal the sweeping consequences of the case: the creation of the federal sex offender registry, a community damaged by law enforcement mistakes, the devastating effects of publicly labeling a man a "person of interest."

The Columbia Journalism Review believes In the Dark "…exhibits the very best of audio storytelling: detailed reporting, slick production, and a suspenseful narrative."

Hear In the Dark Sunday afternoons at 5 through February 12, on the KSUT Sunday Special.

Each program features a discussion by APM Reports' investigative reporter Madeleine Baran and APM Reports' producer Samara Freemark, hosted by Marketplace Lizzie O'Leary.

Program One: The Crime
This episode tells the riveting story of a notorious kidnapping that went unsolved for nearly 27 years and asks the question: Why did it take so long to find the killer? Madeleine and her team demonstrate that law enforcement investigators made crucial errors on the night of the disappearance and in the days afterward. After the episode, Madeleine, Samara and Lizzie discuss how the case led to the development of the federal sex offender registry, and they raise questions about the effectiveness of the registry.

This program contains material that some listeners may find disturbing.

Program Two: The Circle
This program details further mistakes of the investigators in the Jacob Wetterling disappearance, showing that law enforcement failed to canvass the neighborhood and missed key witnesses. Madeleine, Samara and Lizzie discuss the overwhelming number of leads that Jacob's family and law enforcement received, and the killer's recent confession.

 

This program contains material that some listeners may find disturbing.

Program Three The One Who Got Away
The story of Jared Scheierl, who was abducted by the same man who killed Jacob just a few months before Jacob disappeared. It tells how Jared learned that other boys in the town of Paynesville had been grabbed and molested by a man who sounded similar, and how he and those boys came together as adults to try to track that man down. Afterward, Madeleine, Samara and Lizzie discuss Jared's doubts about some details of Danny Heinrich's confession, and explore whether Heinrich continued to attack children in the years he was free.

 

This program contains material that some listeners may find disturbing.

Program Four: Person of Interest
The story of how investigators zeroed in on the wrong guy, ruining his life by naming him a "person of interest." Madeleine, Samara and Lizzie discuss the term "person of interest" and bring in interviews with experts about why the term is gaining currency and what it means.

Program Five: What's Going On Down There?
The story of two more cases the Stearns County Sheriff's Department had trouble solving, and a man whose life was ruined when he was wrongly suspected of killing a police officer. It includes data showing a shockingly low clearance rate for major crimes not just in Stearns County but in many other places around the country. Afterward, Madeleine, Samara and Lizzie discuss why there is no authority that can put pressure on local law enforcement to do a better job of solving crimes.