BARRON — A Barron County girl missing for nearly three months after the murder of her parents was found alive Thursday evening and a suspect is in custody, the Barron County Sheriff’s Office said.
Jayme Closs, 13, was found in the Town of Gordon in Douglas County, about 65 miles north of Barron, at 4:43 p.m., according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
A suspect was taken into custody 11 minutes later, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in a Facebook post.
Jayme’s grandfather, Robert Naiberg, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the teen was being treated at a hospital before being reunited with family.
Fitzgerald said no other information would be released Thursday but the department will have a news conference at 10 a.m. today.
Barron Mayor Ron Fladten said he had not heard any details about Closs’ 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.”
He acknowledged that Jayme may not be the same person she was before she disappeared.
“I hope that she’s in good shape,” the mayor said. “She’s no doubt been through just a terrible ordeal. I think everybody wishes her a good recovery and a happy life going into the future.”
Closs disappeared from her home Oct. 15, sparking a nationwide search involving multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and state Division of Criminal Investigation, as well as hundreds of volunteers.
Deputies responding to a 911 call at the Closs family’s home found the bodies of Closs’s parents, 56-year-old James Closs and 46-year-old Denise Closs. The couple had been shot to death.
Investigators quickly ruled out Closs as a suspect in the homicides, Fitzgerald had said. The Sheriff’s Office also believed Closs had been abducted and was in danger.
Efforts to find Closs included reviewing dozens of surveillance videos, organizing volunteer search parties, requesting help from deer hunters and pursuing tips from thousands of callers.
A trucking company even paired up with a graphic design firm to put information about the search for Closs on the side of a semi-trailer to travel highways across the country.
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 recognized her abductors from an “America’s Most Wanted” episode.
The notification that Jayme had been found came just four hours after Fitzgerald had taken to Twitter to debunk a report that she had been found alive near Walworth County. Douglas County, where Jayme was found, is hundreds of miles northwest of Walworth County.
“It’s like taking a big black cloud in the sky and getting rid of it and the sun comes out again.” Ron Fladten, Barron mayor