Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald speaks during a news conference on Oct. 17, 2018, about 13-year-old Jayme Closs, who went missing in October and was found alive Thursday about 65 miles from the family home where her parents were slain. (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP) By Isaac Stanley-Becker Isaac Stanley-Becker Reporter based in the U.K. Email Bio Follow January 10 at 11:40 PM Late on Thursday afternoon, in a wooded outpost of northwestern Wisconsin, a skinny girl with matted hair, wearing shoes too big for her feet, appeared at the door of Kristin Kasinskas, a teacher at a nearby school.
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The impassive girl appeared with one of the teacher’s neighbors, who told her, “This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!”
With that command, reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune , a months-long manhunt came to a dramatic finish on Thursday, as the 13-year-old girl, who went missing for three months after her parents were slain in October, fled her captor and sought help from a woman walking her dog east of Gordon, Wis., a tiny town about 65 miles north of the Closs family home in Barron, Wis.
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The woman, who went unnamed, told the Star Tribune that she thought she recognized the girl, whose photograph was plastered across the state. When Jayme gave her name, the two raced to the nearest home to seek help.
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The teenager spent 20 minutes inside the Kasinskas home, declining both food and water. She met the teacher’s new puppy, Penny, and told the Gordon residents that she didn’t know where she was, or anything about their town.
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Police announced her discovery on Thursday evening but gave few details, planning a news conference for 10 a.m. local time on Friday. They said she was located at 4:43 p.m., and that a suspect was taken into custody at 4:54 p.m., also in Gordon
“We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald wrote in a Facebook post . “From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!”
Fitzgerald’s department was at the center of an investigation that grew to include local, state and federal investigators. Tips poured in as her name rose to the top of the FBI’s missing persons list. Authorities offered $50,000 for her recovery
A corps of volunteers, at one point numbering 2,000 people , searched rural Barron for the girl, whose disappearance, and the grisly death of her parents, shocked the northwestern Wisconsin community of about 3,300. James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, had worked at the local turkey plant
A mysterious 911 call, placed around 1 a.m. on Oct. 15, led police to the family home
The front door had been kicked in, and the parents were found dead from gunshot wounds. There was no gun found on the scene, and police discovered no obvious motive
Their daughter was nowhere to be found, and police believed she had been kidnapped. An Amber Alert was issued that afternoon
“Based on our investigation thus far, we believe Jayme was in the home at the time of the homicides, and we believe she is still in danger,” Fitzgerald told reporters on Oct. 17
The sheriff added, “Here in Barron County, we all know that these things just don’t happen here.”
Jayme’s aunt, Sue Allard, said her niece was in the hospital recuperating on Thursday night
“There was rumors earlier today, and I prayed and prayed, and they come to not be true,” Allard told CBS affiliate WCCO . “And I just shut myself totally down. I thought today was going to be the day, and then I find out two hours later that she’s found, and I just cannot believe this.”
Earlier Thursday, authorities had denied reports spreading on social media that Jayme had been found in southeastern Wisconsin after rumors circulated of a large police presence there
When she learned that her niece was in fact safe, Allard said, she cried tears of joy
“Praise the Lord,” she told the Star Tribune
A cousin, Seara Closs, took to social media to share her relief
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..
Posted by Seara Closs on Thursday, January 10, 2019