Lifestyle & Human Interest

It's Been One Year Since Jayme Closs' Parents Were Murdered and She Was Kidnapped


On Oct. 15, 2018 in Barron, Wisconsin, a 911 call was made from the Closs family home simply asking for help. But when authorities arrived at the residence, they found a grisly scene and discovered 13-year-old Jayme Closs was missing.

It’s been one year since Jayme Closs’ kidnapping gripped the nation. Here is everything that has happened since then.

On the evening of Oct. 15, 2018, the Barron County Sheriff’s Department responded to a cryptic 911 call made from inside the Closs family home.

Once they arrived on the scene, first responders found James Closs, 56, and his wife Denise, 46, had been murdered in their home.

Even more urgent, however, was that their teen daughter was nowhere to be found.

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Investigators quickly issued an amber alert. Those following her story across the nation held their breath in horror as investigators searched for Jayme and tried to bring the person responsible for her parents’ murders to justice.

Eighty-eight days later on Jan. 10, 2019, a “slender-looking girl” approached a woman walking her dog in a neighborhood located 70 miles away from where Jayme was taken.

When the woman took the girl to a nearby house to alert authorities, homeowner Kristin Kasinskas knew exactly who the young girl was: Jayme Closs.

Jayme had not only escaped her captor, but she also bravely shared crucial information with authorities so he could be apprehended.

“Jayme was the hero in the case. Jayme was the champion that finally said enough is enough,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in a media conference on Jan. 11. “We can’t be more proud of Jayme.”

Jayme was reunited with her aunt, Jennifer Naiberg Smith, the following day and authorities arrested 21-year-old Jake Patterson on charges of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for the murder of Jayme’s parents and one count of kidnapping.

Patterson has since been sentenced to life in prison for his actions and, despite Patterson’s attempts steal her freedom, Jayme Closs has continued to serve as an beacon of hope for unsolved missing person cases.

For four months, the teen stayed out of the public eye while she grieved the loss of her parents and sorted through the immense amount of trauma she experienced.

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On May 15, however, she made her first public appearance when 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.”

One week after being recognized for her incredible bravery, a trial was held to determine the consequences her captor would face.

Jayme was not present in court, but her family attorney, Chris Gramstrup, read a powerful statement penned by her, showing how much wisdom the teen girl has already gained.

“There are some things that Jake Patterson can never take from me,” she wrote. “He can’t take my freedom. He thought he could own me and he was wrong. I’m smarter. I watched his routine and I took back my freedom. I will always have my freedom and he will not.”

She also listed her courage and spirit as things he couldn’t take away, attributes that she was recognized for a week prior to the sentencing.

“He can’t ever change me or take away who I am. He can’t stop me from being happy and moving forward with my life,” Jayme continued. “I will go on to do great things in my life and he will not. Jake Patterson will never have any power over me.”

On Monday, in a news conference marking the one year anniversary of Jayme’s kidnapping and the murder of her parents, she reminded the nation that she is a survivor, not a victim.

“I really want to thank everyone for all the kindness and concern that people all over the country have shown me,” she said in a statement read by Gramstrup.

“I am very happy to be home and getting back to the activities that I enjoy. I love hanging out with all of my friends, and I feel stronger every day!”

Gramstup confirmed the 14-year-old’s update, adding that she has enjoyed “getting back into a routine” and “spending time with her friends.”

The family lawyer also added that she is continuing to work on her “emotional well-being.”

“Just as she saved herself, it’s her strength and her heart that has and will continue to get her through this and move forward with her life,” he added.

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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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