Wetterling Suspect Dan Rassier

Posted by on Jul 3, 2010 | No Comments

On April 28, 2003 — five months after Josh’s disappearance — the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department released information that it “received a call from an individual stating that they were driving off campus, just after midnight, on the night Joshua Guimond disappeared and that they saw someone jogging towards campus on County Road 159 wearing bright colored jogging clothing.”

View Original Article

Wetterling Suspect Dan Rassier

On Friday, July 2, Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner described 54-year-old music teacher Dan Rassier as a “person of interest” in the abduction of Jacob Wetterling at the end of the Rassier driveway on the evening of Oct. 22, 1989.

In a telephone interview with the St. Cloud Times, Rassier said investigators have interviewed him “numerous times” about Jacob’s disappearance. He told the Times he has submitted to a polygraph test, hypnosis, and DNA sampling.

As reported by the Times, Rassier said, “I had absolutely nothing to do with anything with Jacob. … “I didn’t do it. I had nothing to do with it.” (“Sheriff: Rassier ‘person of interest’ in Wetterling case” by Kari Petrie and David Unze, St. Cloud Times, July 3, 2010)

According to Rassier, the negative media exposure has made him the subject of threatening e-mails and death threats, which he has reported to law enforcement authorities.

Criminal Investigative Analysis

On the face of it, investigators’ working theory — that Jacob was taken by an opportunistic offender on foot — seems plausible. The abduction site is in an isolated rural area on a dead-end road; it’s unlikely that a planful, premeditated offender would have trolled the area for a victim.

Dan Rassier, the “person of interest,” certainly had the opportunity — being home alone at the time of the abduction and plausibly having observed Jacob, his friend Aaron Larson, and his brother Trevor passing his home (on their way to the nearby Tom Thumb convenience store to rent a video) and knowing they would have to return the same way.

But while Rassier may have had the opportunity, his motive for taking Jacob is unclear. The conventional wisdom in nonfamily stranger abductions is that the motive invariably is sexual. However, I’ve been unable to find any evidence that Rassier is a pedophile or a sex offender.

Sidebar: St. Cloud Times online reader comments

    guitar01 wrote: I’ve known Dan my whole life, I took lessons from him a few years and he is a good friend of mine. I have been in contact with Dan since Thursday and him [sic] and his family are going through HELL. Imagine if it was you that was being accused of the crime and had death threats against you? How would you feel? I wish the media would stop portraying Dan as being a criminal. Dan is innocent untill [sic] proven guilty, END OF STORY! 7/3/2010 11:54:50 AM
    odiewitch wrote: I also had Dan Rassier as a band teacher. I had group and private lessons with him from 5th grade until 10th grade. He never did or said anything that made me feel uncomfortable. I still find it hard to believe he could of [sic] had anything to do with this crime. I pray for the families of the Wetterlings and for the Rassiers. Remember in this country you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty not the other way around. 7/3/2010 12:18:58 PM
    littlerockpj wrote: To student commenting that he was a good teacher: As a teacher I have found students are good judges of character. Teaching music is hard and if students do not complain about a music teacher, he’s unusually good, since many think music teachers are odd. The fact that students speak well of him and the school did not have complaints makes me think there is more to the story. […] I want Jacob’s abductor caught, but I certainly agree that a person in America is innocent until proven otherwise, and so many people seem to be rushing to judgement or taking their personal unhappiness out on law enforcement. If he is innocent, let’s hope that this story will not tarnish his reputation. 7/3/2010 3:39:25 PM

Considering Rassier’s extensive contact with juveniles in the course of three decades as a music teacher, it’s notable that there have been no known reports of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior.

Furthermore, linkage analysis suggests that Jacob likely was taken by the same offender who kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and later released 12-year-old Jared S. nine months earlier in nearby Cold Spring, where Rassier works as a teacher.

I have information on good authority that DNA evidence was collected from the Cold Spring assault, and — given that Rassier submitted to DNA sampling as long ago as 2003 or 2004 — one would think that if he was a match, he would have been charged with the assault on Jared (Minnesota has a DNA statute-of-limitations exception for rape) and that a strong circumstantial case could have been made in charging him with the kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling.

Furthermore, Jacob isn’t the only young male to have gone missing from the area. On Nov. 9-10, 2002, St. John’s University student Joshua Guimond vanished without a trace from the college campus, approximately 6 miles distant from theWetterling abduction site. He has never been found.

According to FBI statistics, there are approximately 50 serial killers at large at any one time in the United States. Assuming, as a rule of thumb, that approximately 10 percent of those offenders are homosexuals targeting male victims, a rough estimate of the number of such offenders on the loose is five. Given the low population density of rural Stearns County where Jacob and Josh disappeared, it’s statistically improbable that two different offenders could be responsible.

Indeed, it would strengthen the circumstantial case against Rassier in Jacob’s abduction if he is unable to provide an alibi for the night Josh disappeared from St. John’s.

On April 28, 2003 — five months after Josh’s disappearance — the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department released information that it “received a call from an individual stating that they were driving off campus, just after midnight, on the night Joshua Guimond disappeared and that they saw someone jogging towards campus on County Road 159 wearing bright colored jogging clothing.”

Coincidentally, Wetterling suspect Dan Rassier is an avid road runner and one of his routes passes through the St. John’s campus (from the Rassier farm through St. Joseph on Co Hwy 2 to St. John’s University along Co Rd 51 and back to St. Joseph past the Abbey Church, St. John’s Prep School, the I-94 footbridge, and Hwy 75).

In a further coincidence, Josh played the euphonium and did some tutoring in brass instruments, which happens to be Rassier’s teaching specialty. It’s important that law enforcement authorities account for Rassier’s whereabouts on the night of Josh’s disappearance. If he is cleared in the Guimond investigation, it’s arguably less likely that he had any involvement in Jacob’s kidnapping.

On the face of it, Rassier doesn’t seem to be a compelling match for the kind of offender profile one would expect in the Wetterling case:

Rassier is an elementary school band teacher and has worked for the Rocori school district since 1978, Superintendent Scott Staska said. …

“We’ve had no complaints” about Rassier. Students call him “Mr. Be-Bop,” Staska said.

“You don’t get nicknames like that without being well liked by the kids,” he said. …

Ralph Bell, a former [St. Joseph] Newsleader editor, wrote the 2008 profile of Rassier.

Bell said Rassier struck him as “a sweet guy, soft spoken, smiling” …

(Pioneer Press, July 2, 2010)

Whatever the case, until he is charged with and convicted of a crime, it’s important that Rassier be accorded the presumption of innocence as the investigation proceeds and that members of the public desist from harassing Rassier or taking the law into their own hands.

View Original Article

by Aubrey Immelman
Jul 3rd, 2010