John Bodette

Executive Editor, St. Cloud Times

St. Cloud, MN

[MN-E 0201]

One of the first times that it hit me was – I was a very young editor – right after I started.

A mom and dad in our community came in and said that their daughters were missing, and they were very concerned about it – it was Fred and Rita Reker. I remember talking to them and seeing the pain and anguish that they had. And then shortly after that they found out that the two had been slain and they found them. The two girls had been abducted apparently and slain. They found them in a quarry nearby, and I knew how difficult it was. And we did the story about the missing girls. And then we did the story about when authorities found them. It was just so emotional to hear the story of what Fred and Rita were going through. That remains an unsolved slaying.

Another example would be the Jacob Wetterling abduction in the late ‘80s. He was abducted while he was biking with his brother and another back from a video store about nine at night in St. Joseph, [Minn.,] – a small town. That remains unsolved.

That emotionally affected me because it was at a time maybe when we were all just very innocent about these things. But the fact that it was a stranger abduction of a child in a small community, and then what Patty Wetterling and her family – Jerry and Patty Wetterling went through – and we covered that wall-to-wall and continue to.

The world is out of sync until we find out what happened to Jacob.

Another one was 9/11, where we did, I think, 18 or 20 wide-open pages that day, covering that story. And I remember being in the newsroom and it was like – all hands on deck – and people weeping and coming in and not knowing what in the world was going on.

And then to produce 18 or 20 pages of local and wire coverage for that next day’s paper. And we probably did some online stuff, but not nearly to the extent that we do now. And then just the impact that that coverage had on the community.