Authorities say Jayme Closs found alive in northwestern Wisconsin, suspect arrested

Authorities in western Wisconsin on Thursday night announced that Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old girl who was apparently abducted after her parents were slain last fall, has been found alive and a suspect has been arrested.

Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec said his deputies found Jayme Thursday afternoon after a receiving a tip from a citizen. The suspect was taken into custody a short time later, according to a Facebook post by Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. Douglas County is about 70 miles north of Jayme’s home in Barron County.

Fitzgerald did not release any further details on what he called “a very fluid and active investigation,” but he said a news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday.

“Finally we want to especially thank the family for their support and patience while this case was ongoing,” Fitzgerald wrote. “We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise.”

Fitzgerald posted this update on the case about three hours after he took to Facebook to refute online rumors that a heavy police presence in southern Wisconsin’s Walworth County was related to the search for Jayme.

Fitzgerald had been planning to update the public on the months-long search for Jayme at a press conference next Tuesday.

James and Denise Closs were found fatally shot on Oct. 15 at their home in Barron, a rural western Wisconsin community about 80 miles northeast of St. Paul. Authorities responding to a 911 call at the house found the door kicked in.

Investigators almost immediately ruled out Jayme as a suspect and launched a wide-ranging search for her, enlisting several other law enforcement agencies and thousands of volunteers to comb the swamps, cornfields and forests of Barron County.

Detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and spent countless hours searching for Jayme, but their efforts hadn’t yielded any breakthroughs in the case.

Jayme had last been seen at a family gathering on the afternoon before her apparent abduction.

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.

“I have a gut feeling she’s still alive,” Fitzgerald said at the time. “I’ve always been a glass half-full kind of guy.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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