Jayme Closs Found Alive, Sheriff Says

Barron County Girl, Missing Since October, Found in Northern Wisconsin

Jayme Closs press conference, October 22, 2018
Rich Kremer/WPR

Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old Barron County girl who went missing in October, has been found alive.

The Barron County Sheriff’s Department posted the news to Facebook at around 8 p.m. Thursday.

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Jayme was found in Douglas County by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and a suspect was taken into custody, according to the post.

Jayme Closs. Photo courtesy of the Barron County Sheriff’s Office

Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec wrote in an email to WPR that Jayme was found between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday in the Town of Gordon, which is about 45 minutes from Superior. Dalbec declined to comment further, saying the investigation is ongoing.

Witnesses said Jayme approached a woman walking her dog Thursday, asking for help. The woman took her to a nearby home owned by Peter Kasinskas. Kasinskas told Minnesota Public Radio that Jayme told him she’d been abducted, that her parents had been killed and that she left a nearby house after she’d been left alone.

Jayme had been missing since her parents James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, — were found shot and killed in their Barron home Oct. 15.

“We want to thank the Douglas Co. Sheriff’s Department and agencies assisting them tonight,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald wrote in the Facebook post. “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.”

Superior Police Chief Nick Alexander said in an email to WPR on Thursday that they’re providing support to help out in the investigation, calling the news a “remarkable development.”

The investigation of the killings and apparent abduction drew in members of the FBI and thousands of civilian volunteers who showed up to help search the area surrounding the Closs home.

Volunteers cross a creek and barbed wire near Barron, Wis., Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, on their way to a ground search for Jayme Closs who was discovered missing Oct. 15 after her parents were found fatally shot at their home. The search for Closs was expanded Tuesday, with as many as 2,000 volunteers expected to take part in a search of the area. Jeff Baenen/AP Photo

The Barron County Sheriff’s Department is planning to release more details about Jayme’s discovery Friday morning and wasn’t responding to questions Thursday night.

Family, Community Member React To Teen’s Return

Jayme would be reunited with family members on Thursday night, according to the post, which also asked that their privacy be respected.

Robert Naiberg, Jayme’s grandfather, said he received a call late Thursday that he’d been praying for, informing him his granddaughter had been found alive.

Naiberg told The Associated Press on Friday that his daughter called him with news that the teen had escaped her captor in Gordon, about an hour’s drive from Barron. He said Jayme reported that she’d been held by “a guy in the woods” but was able to escape.

Talking with ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday morning, Jen Smith, the girl’s aunt, said her niece was being treated at a hospital on Thursday.

Smith said she was given no other details about the case, other than being told a suspect was in custody.

On Thursday night, Lacey Naiberg, a cousin of Jayme’s, thanked law enforcement and the community for support. Lacey Naiberg posted on Facebook after the Barron County sheriff reported Jayme had been found.

Naiberg wrote “there are no words to describe” the feeling of having so many people come together to help. She asks people to continue to pray for “Jayme’s well-being and our families healing.”

State Rep. Romaine Quinn, R-Barron, said Closs’ disappearance affected the entire community.

“It’s pretty incredible. There were so many questions going through everyone’s mind, whether you’d see her again or whether we’d find out who did it and just so many unanswered questions. I think it’s a huge relief for her family and the entire community,” Quinn said. “So the amount of time we all volunteered to search to find her, to the businesses that were helping feed all those federal agents that were here … the whole community was definitely involved. So, it’s a big day for everybody.”

As of 9:12 p.m. on Thursday, the AP reported Barron Mayor Ron Fladten said he hadn’t heard any details about Jayme’s discovery. He said knowing she’s been found is “unbelievable. It’s like taking a big black cloud in the sky and getting rid of it and the sun comes out again.”

A sign is seen in the small town of Barron, Wis., Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, where 13-year-old Jayme Closs was discovered missing Oct. 15 after her parents were found fatally shot at their home. A search was being organized to find the couple’s missing daughter. Jeff Baenen/AP Photo