DOUGLAS COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – Jayme Closs is recovering in a hospital and will be reunited with her family Friday.
The Barron teen was found alive nearly three months to the day she was abducted from her western Wisconsin home.
“I hear she’s doing great and getting rest right now,” aunt Jen Smith told Good Morning America. “All I know is that she escaped from where she was being held, saw a lady walking a dog and ran to the lady asking for help.”
Smith says Jayme will be talking with the FBI to tell her story.
Jayme Closs was reported missing October 15 when her parents, James and Denise Closs, were murdered in their Barron home.
The news that everyone has been waiting for broke Thursday night. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald announced Jayme had been found safe in Douglas County, about an hour north of Barron.
- Sheriff Fitzgerald is holding a news conference Friday at 10 a.m. Action 2 News plans to broadcast it live on WBAY-TV and WBAY.com.
Events started to unfold at about 4 p.m. Thursday. Peter and Kristin Kasinskas heard a frantic knock on the door of their home near Gordon in Douglas County. The couple told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that a neighbor was standing there with a “skinny, dirty girl with matted hair, wearing shoes too big for her feet.” The neighbor yelled for the Kasinskas to call 911.
The neighbor, who had been walking her dog, said Jayme approached her and said she wanted help. Click here for the full story from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“I think [Jayme] looks thinner than what her pictures showed,” Kristin Kasinskas told ABC News. “She definitely looked unkempt, kind of — she didn’t have shoes that were hers. She was wearing really big shoes that she obviously took from wherever she came from. She looked, overall, in good condition, just a little unclean, like she’d been held captive.”
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office says deputies identified Jayme and 11 minutes later arrested a suspect in the town of Gordon.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office confirms that Barron County missing person JAYME CLOSS was located alive in the Town of Gordon in Douglas County at 4:43pm and a suspect was taken into custody at 4:54pm, also in the Town of Gordon.
Jayme’s aunt, Jennifer Smith, told KSTP Jayme was taken to a hospital to be checked out but authorities didn’t think she was injured.
Jayme’s grandfather, Robert Naiberg, said, “Everybody is so happy … We can’t believe it.”
Uncle Mike Closs said, “We pray every day, we just hope for her safe return and we can’t thank the community enough.”
Elizabeth Smart, was kidnapped and sexually assaulted in 2002, called the news a “miracle.” In a post on Instagram, Smart said, “I have no doubt Jayme and her family will forever appreciate the efforts and prayers of the many thousands of people who contributed and kept them in their thoughts and prayers! I hope we may all continue to support and embrace Jayme as she reclaims her life and comes to terms with the reality of her situation. What a brave, strong, and powerful survivor!!!! “
Hours earlier, Sheriff Fitzgerald was quashing internet rumors that a heavy police presence in Walworth County, in southeastern Wisconsin, was related to the Closs investigation. He called that “false news.”
Following is the statement from Sheriff Fitzgerald Thursday night:
Jayme Closs has been located.
On Thursday evening the Barron County Sheriff’s Department was notified by the Douglas CO WI Sheriff’s Department that they had located Jayme Closs alive.
Shortly after this a suspect was taken into custody in regards to this case. We do not any other details at this time as this is a very fluid and active investigation. We will not be answering any questions or taking calls on this tonight.
We are planning a press briefing approximately 10 am tomorrow at the Sheriff’s Department in Barron. We are receiving support from the FBI and WI DCI agents as this investigation continues.
We want to thank the Douglas Co Sheriff’s Department and agencies assisting them tonight. We also want to thank all the Law Enforcement agencies across the state and county that have assisted us in this case. We also could not have endured this case without the support of the public and I want to thank them for all the support and help.
Finally we want to especially thank the family for their support and patience while this case was ongoing. We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!
This case has been very trying on the family so please respect their privacy and we reunite them later tonight.
Smith told KSTP the family wants justice for her sister and brother-in-law who were murdered. She said the family is focused on supporting Jayme.
The young teenager was missing for 87 days. Her disappearance united people in Barron County and across the state. County buildings dedicated Christmas trees to Jayme, decorating them in her favorite colors and the word “Hope.”
“Jayme is an example of why we never lose hope and never stop searching,” says the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Two thousand people — law enforcement officers, first responders and volunteers — searched for possible clues. The FBI set up a hotline, and thousands of citizen tips were pursued. A $25,000 reward was offered and grew to $50,000. A news conference was held in October with Jayme’s aunt, Jennifer Smith, sending a personal message to Jayme: “Your dog, Molly, is waiting for you. She is sleeping in one of your sweatshirts. Grandpa needs new artwork on his fridge… I want that girl’s shopping date we planned.”
“Jayme, we need you here with us to fill that hole we have in our hearts. We all love you to the moon and back and we will never stop looking for you,” she said.
Sheriff Fitzgerald was planning a news conference next week to mark 90 days since her abduction.