Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old girl who vanished after her parents were found dead in their northwestern Wisconsin home, has been found alive, the Barron County Sheriff’s Department said.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin notified the Barron County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday that they had located Jayme alive.
She was found late Thursday afternoon in Gordon, Wisconsin, a town about 66 miles north of where Jayme was last seen, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said.
A suspect was taken into custody about 10 minutes after authorities found Jayme, the sheriff’s office said.
Though authorities didn’t immediately release more details, a woman told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis that Jayme approached her for help Thursday afternoon while the woman was walking her dog.
They rushed to a neighbor’s home, where someone called 911, the Star Tribune reported.
Authorities have said they will hold a news conference Friday morning.
Jayme’s aunt, Sue Allard, said her niece was in the hospital Thursday night.
“There was rumors earlier today, and I prayed and prayed, and they come to not be true,” Allard told CNN affiliate WCCO reporter Mary McGuire. “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.”
Jayme vanished October 15, and her parents, James and Denise Closs, were found fatally shot in their home near Barron, a town of 3,300 people in northwestern Wisconsin.
Investigators say a mysterious 911 call led deputies to discover the bodies. The call was “pinged” to the Closs home. When the dispatcher called the number back, a voicemail greeting indicated the phone belonged to Denise Closs. The log does not indicate who made the 911 call, but the dispatcher heard yelling in the background.
Police arrived to find the door kicked in, but no one was there. Investigators said they believed Jayme was at home during the shooting.
“Finally, we want to especially thank the family for their support and patience while this case was ongoing. We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in a statement.
“This case has been very trying on the family so please respect their privacy and we reunite them later tonight.”
Thousands of people joined search parties for months as investigators received thousands of tips. The FBI offered a cash reward for information on Jayme’s whereabouts, and hunters in the area were urged to be on the lookout for clues.
In December, the Barron County Clerk of Courts Office dedicated its Christmas tree to Jayme. The decorations spelled out her name in big, glittery letters, and they included green bulbs and ribbons. The color green is often used to raise awareness of missing children.
In the days after Jayme’s disappearance, law enforcement officials assured the public they believed she was alive and in danger.
Another of Jayme’s aunts, Jennifer Smith, pleaded with those who knew where the girl was to contact the sheriff’s department.
“Jayme, we need you here with us to fill that hole we have in our hearts,” Smith said shortly after the girl went missing. “We all love you to the moon and back. And we will never stop looking for you.”
Barron, a town of less than 3 square miles, has a population of about 3,300, according to US Census figures. It is about a one-hour, 50-minute drive from Minneapolis, and is about 50 minutes from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.