MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – A Wisconsin teenager missing for nearly three months after her parents were killed in the family home was found alive barely an hour’s drive away, by a woman who stumbled across the 13-year-old girl and pounded on her neighbours’ door shouting, “This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!”
Jayme was skinny and dirty, wearing shoes too big for her feet, but appeared outwardly OK when she was discovered on Thursday afternoon near the small town of Gordon, the neighbours said.
“I honestly still think I’m dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost,” Peter Kasinskas told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “My jaw just went to the floor.”
Authorities said a suspect was in custody, but otherwise didn’t give any additional details ahead of a planned news conference in Barron, in northwestern Wisconsin yesterday.
Jayme went missing on October 15 last year after police discovered someone had broken into the family’s home outside Barron and fatally shot her parents, James and Denise Closs. Jayme was nowhere to be found, with the Barron County Sheriff’s Department describing her as likely abducted.
Detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches in the effort to find Jayme. Some tips led officials to recruit 2,000 volunteers for a massive ground search on October 23 but it yielded no clues.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in November that he kept similar cases in the back of his mind as he worked to find Jayme, including the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, who was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, when she was 14 years old. She was rescued nine months later with the help of two witnesses who recognised her abductors from an America’s Most Wanted episode.