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Jayme Closs Found Alive in Wisconsin Months After Parents’ Deaths Jayme Closs Found Alive in Wisconsin Months After Parents’ Deaths
(35 minutes later)
A 13-year-old girl who disappeared the same night her parents were shot to death in their rural Wisconsin home nearly three months ago was found alive on Thursday night, the authorities said. A 13-year-old girl who disappeared the same night her parents were shot to death in their rural Wisconsin home nearly three months ago was found alive on Thursday and a suspect was in custody, the authorities said.
Details are scarce, but the girl, Jayme Closs, was discovered early in the evening by officers from Douglas County, north of her hometown, Barron, Wis., according to a Facebook post from the Barron County Sheriff’s Department. The family was notified at about 7:30 p.m. The girl, Jayme Closs, was discovered late Thursday afternoon in Douglas County, north of her hometown, Barron, Wis., the authorities said. The family was notified at about 7:30 p.m.
“We’re very happy that she is alive,” her uncle Jeff Closs wrote in a text message to a reporter. “We don’t know much else.” Jayme was in a hospital and being evaluated, he said. Jayme was in a hospital and being evaluated, her uncle, Jeff Closs, said. “We’re very happy that she is alive,” he wrote in a text message to a reporter. “We don’t know much else.”
Just when the family started to give up hope, Mr. Closs wrote, “we got the greatest news ever.” Just when the family started to give up hope, Mr. Closs said, “we got the greatest news ever.”
The double homicide of the Closses, a quiet couple who worked at the local turkey plant, and the mystery of their daughter’s disappearance on Oct. 15, riveted Barron, a town of just over 3,400. A manhunt drew 2,100 tips and thousands of volunteers. The local police force of 78 swelled to a corps of 200 federal, state and local officers in a hunt that went on day and night. Jayme had been missing since Oct. 15, when the authorities found her parents, James and Denise Closs, dead in their home, the front door open and Jayme gone. The double homicide of the Closses, a quiet couple who worked at the local turkey plant, and the mystery of their daughter’s disappearance riveted Barron, a town of just over 3,400. A manhunt drew more than 2,100 tips and thousands of volunteers. All over town, shops and homes hung green ribbons bearing the words “Find Jayme Closs.” The local police force of 78 swelled as a corps of 200 federal, state and local officers joined a hunt that went on day and night.
[Read how the disappearance shook the town.] [Read more about how Jayme’s disappearance shook her hometown.]
In a news release, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Jayme was “located alive in the town of Gordon in Douglas County at 4:43 p.m.” It added, “A suspect was taken into custody at 4:54 p.m., also in the town of Gordon.” There were no more details. Her disappearance also drew national attention, and her name topped the F.B.I.’s missing persons list as the reward for her recovery grew to $50,000. “We have exhausted every lead,” Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald of Barron County had said. “There is no stone that has been unturned.”
On Thursday night, shortly after Jayme was found, Barron’s sheriff, Chris Fitzgerald, confirmed in a text message that Jayme had been located: “2 separate incidents tonight, one was false and one was true,” he wrote, but declined to elaborate further. “I am not making comments tonight except to say she was found.” Weeks into the search, Jayme was found about 65 miles from where she disappeared in the town of Gordon, Wis., at 4:43 p.m. Thursday, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. A suspect was taken into custody at 4:54 p.m., also in Gordon, the authorities said.
But Jayme’s return was still shrouded in as much mystery as her disappearance. No motive had been discovered for her parents’ killings, and no weapon had been found. A news conference was scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on Friday in Barron, officials said. But for her extended family, an agonizing episode nearly three months long was at last over. A couple who lives in the area, Kristin and Peter Kasinskas, told The Minneapolis Star Tribune that Jayme appeared on their doorstep about 4 p.m. Thursday, after she had been found by one of their neighbors who was out walking her dog. The neighbor pounded on the family’s door, the couple said. A skinny girl, who had matted hair and was wearing shoes too big for her feet, stood by her side.
“This is Jayme Closs!” the neighbor said. “Call 911!”
While they waited for the authorities, the Kasinskases offered Jayme food and water and introduced her to their puppy. They said Jayme told them she did not know where she was, the newspaper reported.
“It was like I was seeing a ghost,” Peter Kasinskas told the Star Tribune. “It was scary and awesome at the same time. My jaw just went to the floor.”
In a Facebook post, Sheriff Fitzgerald thanked the public and other law enforcement agencies for their support as the authorities searched for Jayme for weeks. “We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise,” he wrote. “From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!
But Jayme’s return was still shrouded in as much mystery as her disappearance. No motive had been discovered for her parents’ killings, and no weapon had been found. A news conference was scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on Friday in Barron, officials said.
But for her extended family, an agonizing wait of nearly three months was at last over.
“I honestly had faith,” Kelly Engelhardt, Jayme’s aunt, said in an interview with a television station Thursday night. “I figured if they hadn’t found her by now that the person that did this didn’t want her dead. So I had hope.”“I honestly had faith,” Kelly Engelhardt, Jayme’s aunt, said in an interview with a television station Thursday night. “I figured if they hadn’t found her by now that the person that did this didn’t want her dead. So I had hope.”
Jayme’s disappearance drew national attention to the town about 90 miles northeast of the Twin Cities. Her name topped the F.B.I.’s missing persons list as the reward for her recovery grew to $50,000, and all over town, shops and homes hung green ribbons bearing the words “Find Jayme Closs,” and displayed green banners on their social media pages. Her cousin Seara Closs wrote on Facebook: “She is alive and on her way home, From the bottom of my heart thank you all for the help!!!”
On social media on Thursday night, they rejoiced. Another aunt, Lynn Closs, also posted as the news was spreading. Her message was simple: “We have her.”
Her cousin Seara Closs wrote: “She is alive and on her way home from the bottom of my heart thank you all for the help!!! I can never repay each and everyone one of you for posting and sharing and contributing to the search of my cousin Jayme Closs!!!! Thank you so much everyone!!!! I love you all” In a statement on Instagram, Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted from her home as a teenager in 2002 and held for nine months, called Jayme’s rescue a miracle and said she was praying for a “joyous reunion” for Jayme and her extended family.
Lynn Closs, her aunt, also posted as the news was spreading. “We have her,” she wrote. “No matter what may unfold in her story let’s all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED,” she said. “Whatever other details may surface, the most important will still remain that she is alive.”