The Disappearance of Jayme Closs

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*UPDATE: The Barron County Sheriff’s Department has announced Jayme Closs has been found alive and her abductor, 21-year-old Jake Patterson, has been taken into custody.*

EARLY LIFE:

Jayme Closs was born on July 13, 2005. Growing up, she lived in Barron, Wisconsin with her parents, James and Denise Closs, who were both employees of the local Jennie-O Turkey Store, one of the area’s largest employers.

A student at Riverview Middle School, Jayme was known as a quiet and sweet girl, who had a love for both dance and sports. She was an avid cross-country lover, and was described as being a loyal friend.

The Closs family were known for being incredibly close. Jayme and her mother were almost inseparable, and the pair would often visit Denise’s father, who had recently suffered the loss of his wife. The two would visit him on a weekly basis, oftentimes bringing him collectibles they’d find at local antique stores.

LEAD UP TO DISAPPEARANCE:

On October 14, 2018, Denise and 13-year-old Jayme attended the birthday party of a family member. As James had to work, he was unable to attend.

DISAPPEARANCE:

At just before 1:00am on the morning of October 15, Barron County Sheriff’s Department dispatchers received a 911 call consisting of just yelling. Upon the call disconnecting, a callback was made, which sent dispatchers to Denise Closs’ voicemail. Given the length of the initial call, authorities were able to ping its location and responders made their way to the Closs house.

When police arrived at the home, they found the family’s front door had been kicked in. Once inside, they found the bodies of James and Denise Closs, who had been shot to death. The family dog was still alive, but their daughter, Jayme, was nowhere to be found.

SEARCH:

At the start of the investigation, an AMBERT Alert was sent out for Jayme, informing locals of the girl’s disappearance.

An initial search of the house brought up very little clues, as there wasn’t any DNA, shoe print or fingerprint evidence found. The gun used in the murders of James and Dense wasn’t located at the scene, but police found Denise’s cellphone in the doorway of a hallway bathroom. A specially-trained search dog was brought in to try and locate any other electronic devices in the home, but was unable to uncover any.

What was found allowed investigators to deduce the missing girl hadn’t been involved in her parents’ murders and had most likely been abducted by whoever had committed them, as she had been home at the time. The evidence found also led them to feel Jayme was in danger.

Neighbours were interviewed as the investigation progressed and it was learned that two gunshots had been heard approximately 20 minutes before the 911 call had been made from Denise’s cellphone. However, as hunters are a regular feature in the area, they assumed the gunshot wasn’t the result of foul play and thus didn’t feel the need to contact authorities.

One of the first leads called into investigators revolved around a possible sighting of Jayme in Miami, Florida. A witness called in to say they’d seen a girl matching Jayme’s description at a gas station located on N.W. 27 Avenue and 11 Street between 2:00pm and 3:00pm on the day she went missing. She had been travelling with two men in a Ford Explorer. However, the Sheriff’s Department dismissed the tip during a press conference, saying the girl hadn’t actually been Jayme.

In the hopes of uncovering new evidence, a second search was conducted of the house, but nothing was found. This followed a search consisting of approximately 100 volunteers, who helped comb fields and ditches located near the Closs home. While drones and infrared equipment were used, nothing of value was discovered.

To help spread the word of Jayme’s disappearance, her case was featured on digital billboards across the United States. The FBI also issued a reward of $25,000 – an amount later increased to $50,000 – for information leading to her safe return.

Upon interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance footage, investigators announced they were looking for information surrounding two vehicles seen near the Closs house the night of the murders. The first was described as being either a 2004-2010 black Acura MDX or a 2006-2010 black Ford Edge, while the second was a 2008-2014 red or orange Dodge Challenger. This led to a call for anyone travelling along Highway 8 on the morning of October 15 to call in with possible tips.

In late October 2018, a man was charged with breaking into the family’s house and stealing items, such as girl’s underwear and other clothing. The man, who was later discovered to have been on bond for a previous burglary charge, was caught on motion-activated cameras entering the house through the unlocked patio door. He was arrested and currently faces charges of burglary and felony bail jumping, with the latter being in relation to his previous charge.

To help spread the word about Jayme’s disappearance, the Closs family printed flyers, which they handed out across Barron. They have asked everyone with a flyer to take it with them while travelling, so that word of the case spreads.

As the annual deer hunting season went underway in November 2018, investigators asked hunters to report if they found anything suspicious. This followed early requests for neighbours to walk their properties and call in if they found any potential evidence.

Toward the end of December 2018, a social media post began to circulate online, which featured an image that appeared to be of Jayme and an unknown person, with the caption, “Is this the big break we’ve been waiting for?” While it gained traction online, investigators ultimately discredited it, saying the girl in the image wasn’t Jayme.

In January 2019, Karl’s Transport and South Side Design, both businesses in Antigo, Wisconsin, teamed up to help raise awareness about the case nationwide by featuring Jayme’s image and information on the sides of semi-trailers.

Desperate for leads, police have begun looking into the lives of James and Denise Closs. Over the course of the investigation, they have pursued over 2,000 leads and spent numerous hours searching. They are currently working on the theory that Jayme is still alive, but have yet to uncover any suspects or a motive in the case.

THEORIES:

1) The primary theory held by both investigators and the Closs family is Jayme was the victim of an abduction at the hands of whoever murdered her parents. As aforementioned, it’s believed she was in the house when her parents were shot, and while they won’t elaborate in order to keep the integrity of the investigation, police feel Jayme remains in danger.

2) There are some online who feel Jayme had some involvement in her parents’ murders and has thus gone missing willingly. They base this theory on the belief she had a secret boyfriend. However, there has been no evidence released to support this theory or even show she was in a relationship at the time of her disappearance, and police continue to emphasis Jayme had no involvement in her parents’ deaths.

AFTERMATH:

To help keep awareness of the case alive, the Barron County Clerk of Courts dedicated their 2018 Christmas tree to Jayme, spelling out her name with the decorations.

Several vigils, including one at the local high school, have been held to help keep the case in the public eye.

CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:

Jayme Closs went missing from Barron, Wisconsin on October 15, 2018. She was 13 years old. At the time of her disappearance, she was 5’0″ and weighed approximately 100 pounds. She has strawberry blonde hair and green eyes. It is currently unknown what she was last seen wearing.

Currently, her case is classified as endangered missing. If alive, she would still be 13 years old.

Those with information regarding the case are being asked to call the Barron County Sheriff’s Department tip line at 1-855-744-3879 or send an email to jaymetips@co.barron.wi.us.

Image Credit: ABC News

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