On the heels of blogger Joy Baker's fantastic work about possible links between Jacob Wetterling's abduction in St. Joseph in October 1989 and a string of attacks on young teenage boys in Paynesville in 1986 and 1987, authorities took a fresh look at the Wetterling case last month.
One of the people they spoke to was 83-year-old Delbert Huber. At the time, Huber was serving time in the Faribault prison for murder. He was convicted of killing a school teacher during an October 2011 dispute over $50. (His arrest produced the unforgettable mugshot below the jump.) In 1989, however, Huber lived in Paynesville, which is about a half-hour from St. Joseph, and after Wetterling's abduction he was questioned about the case because of his resemblance to a witness account of what the abductor looked and sounded like. (Read more about that and see a sketch of the suspect here.)
Though fresh tips recently came in linking him with Wetterling's disappearance, Huber vociferously denied any connection.
"All these people are telling stories, they're lying," Huber told WCCO in an interview from prison. "Never had nothing to do with the Jacob Wetterling kid, never."
The next day, June 11, Huber died.
Huber's sudden death so soon after he again became a suspect in the Wetterling abduction raised eyebrows. But yesterday, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner ruled he died from natural causes connected to "complications of a perforated gastric ulcer," Lori Hedican, chief investigator for the office, tells us.
Hedican says the medical examiner doesn't necessarily investigate all deaths of prisoners who are in custody when they become stricken or die, but officials felt the circumstances surrounding Huber's death warranted a closer look.
Esme Murphy, the WCCO reporter who conducted the interview with Huber the day before his death, said she was surprised to learn of his passing.
"I'm shocked that he died because he did not seem that he was that infirm," Murphy said in a WCCO report. "He almost seemed too mean to die. At that point, he was so angry at so many things."
But in an interview he did two days before his death with Fox 9, Huber hinted that something was wrong with his stomach.
Asked how he was feeling, Huber said, "I got a little pain in my stomach and my ankle there -- got smashed in on the door." But with regard to his mental acuity, he said he felt "pretty good."
As he did the next day during the WCCO interview, Huber denied having any involvement with Wetterling's disappearance or any of the Paynesville cases.
Asked whether he'd ever killed anyone besides the teacher he was convicted of murdering, Huber said, "Not that I know of. I might have overseas in Korea."