An Open Letter to Daniel Heinrich

Dear Daniel,

I’m a missionary who has lived most of my life in Minnesota. While there’s no guarantee you will ever see this letter, I still felt inspired to write to you. My intent is not to bring additional shame and condemnation you’ve already experienced.

You probably felt some relief after confessing to the abduction and murder of Jacob Wetterling. It would be hard for anyone to have that on their conscience for 27 years. The date of Jacob’s disappearance (October 22nd) always stood out to me because that happens to be my sister’s birthday. I can’t imagine the horror of having a loved one disappear and not knowing their whereabouts for nearly three decades. The news reports I read about your plea agreement indicate you will spend at least 20 years behind bars. Regardless if you ever see freedom again, I want to share some good news with you. 

While there are angry people who want to see you suffer for eternity, God see things differently. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” None of us deserve to go to heaven. In case you’re not already aware of this, God sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we won’t have to go to hell. Every soul is valuable to God…even yours.

If you’re remorseful for what you did, God can still use your latter years for good. Remember the “Son of Sam” killer who terrorized New York City in the 1970s? David Berkowitz became a Christian ten years after being incarcerated. To this day he ministers to fellow inmates. Jeffrey Dahmer was another serial killer who found the Lord but then had his life cut short by another prisoner. This is why we must always be ready for eternity. People from all walks of life die unexpectedly every day.

Skeptics may question “jailhouse conversions.” Others may feel justified for expressing hatred towards you. The Bible actually equates hate with murder (Matthew 5:21-22, 1 John 3:15). Jesus warned that He won’t forgive us if we won’t forgive others (Mark 11:26). Thankfully His grace and mercy is so much greater than man’s. It’s also worth pointing out portions of the Bible were written by men who committed murder such as Moses, David, and the Apostle Paul.

Certainly I don’t condone the crimes you committed. There are consequences for lawbreakers especially when they traumatically impact the lives of others. Still I pray that you give your life to Jesus Christ. He will receive you joyfully if you call out to Him. 

In the meantime, I will be praying for you as well as for the Wetterling family.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” - 2 Peter 3:9

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