Missing Wisconsin 13-year-old found alive after nearly 3 months

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BARRON, Wisc. — A teen girl who had been missing since her parents were found dead at their Wisconsin home in October has been found alive, the Barron County Sheriff’s Department confirmed.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin notified the Barron County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday that they had located 13-year-old Jayme Closs 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.

Officials released little other information about the girl’s condition or the person who was arrested, noting that it was “a very fluid and active investigation.” Officials planned to hold a new conference Friday at 8 a.m. PST.

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 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 voice mail 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.

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