How can we begin to understand the loss the Klein family has experienced? It's impossible, but also an important step in how we can try to empathize with and support families in this unthinkable situation. Betty and Kenneth are no longer able to share their experience, so author and Long Lost host Jack El-Hai sat down with Patty Wetterling to discuss how her family navigated the tragedy of her son Jacob's abduction, and what's changed since they learned of his fate after 27 years of searching.
Like the Kleins, Patty was motivated by her hope in finding her son - and that hope pulled her out of bed each morning and propelled her into action. Four months after Jacob's abduction, she, along with family and friends, created the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, now the Jacob Wettlering Resource Center. Their mission is to, "work to end all forms of child maltreatment through education, training and prevention, while advocating for and serving children, adult survivors and communities."
Patty spoke with Jack about what we can do for families like the Kleins, who exist in a perpetual limbo as they wait for answers about the fates of their loved ones. It may seem like a small detail, but she said, "One thing that happens when you have a missing child is nobody wants to say their name. And it's like, just remember, I never forgot about Kenneth, David and Danny. Having other people, hearing that they carried them in their lives, too, and that they remember that these people did exist and they're a part of your life and you still care. We can all still care."
One of the oldest active missing persons cases in the state of Minnesota, the Klein brothers' story resurfaces in Long Lost: An Investigative History Series, weaving together the details of that day they went missing in 1951, right up until the present moment. You can listen to the fifth episode of the podcast at the top of this article – and stay tuned for new episodes weekly.
You can also start at the very beginning in the first episode of this true-crime podcast, Long Lost Episode 1: Look Everywhere. Then head directly into Long Lost Episode 2: Searching Endlessly, Long Lost Episode 3: The Suspects and Long Lost Episode 4: What's Hidden.
This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the Friends of Minnesota Experience.