Lifestyle & Human Interest

Jayme Closs Makes First Public Appearance Since Escaping Abduction, Receives Hero Award


People across the country rejoiced when 13-year-old Jayme Closs was found alive. In October 2018, she was abducted and held captive for three months after both of her parents were murdered in their Wisconsin home.

The teen was found 70 miles away from her home and the community that had gathered around Closs’ family celebrated her safe return.

“It was only a few months ago that we as a community gathered to pray for Jayme’s safe return at Barron High School,” Brian Wright, Barron County District Attorney, said during the media conference held on Jan. 11. “God has answered those prayers.”

Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted and held captive for 9 months when she was 14 years old, wrote on Instagram that she was thrilled that “such a heart wrenching tragedy finally has some happiness in the story.”

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Smart also encouraged others to give the teen and her family space to adjust to “a new sense of normal.”

Since then, Closs has stayed out of the public eye while she grieves the loss of her parents and sorts through the immense amount of trauma she experienced during the events.

On May 15, almost four months after Closs escaped, Wisconsin state representative Romaine Quinn presented the Hometown Hero award to the 13-year-old on behalf of the Wisconsin Assembly.

“Jayme, your strength, your resolve, and bravery is beyond incredible. You are truly an inspiration and a bright light during a time of sadness,” Rep. Quinn said.

“You taught us an important lesson,” he continued. “No matter how grave your situation, no matter how dark your days become, no matter how impossible your circumstances may seem, there is always hope.”

While Closs did not speak at the event, her aunt, Jennifer Naiberg Smith, thanked the Wisconsin Assembly on her niece’s behalf. She also thanked their hometown, Barron, for supporting the family during such a tragic time.

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“Speaking for her entire family, I have to say that Jayme is totally deserving of the hero part of this award,” Smith said. “Her courage, her bravery, and her spirit are things that inspire us and make us stronger and better.”

“Just like you, we want Jayme to know how much we love her.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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