Sheriff never gave up hope that Closs would be found

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By Todd Richmond/AP

BARRON COUNTY (AP) — Jayme Closs had been missing since her parents, James and Denise Closs, were found shot to death Oct. 15 in the family’s home near Barron.

Jayme Closs had not been seen since, until today when authorities say she was found alive and a suspect was arrested.

During that time, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald never gave up hope that he’d find Jayme Closs.

Detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches in the effort to find Jayme. Some tips led officials to recruit 2,000 volunteers for a massive ground search on Oct. 23 but it yielded no clues.

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 (Jayme’s) still alive. I’ve always been a glass half-full kind of guy,” Fitzgerald said at the time.

The Town of Gordon lies about 40 miles south of the Lake Superior shoreline and 65 miles north of Barron, where the Closs family lived. Gordon is home to about 645 people.

Barron Mayor Ron Fladten said Thursday night he hadn’t heard any details about Jayme’s discovery yet but was overjoyed at learning she is alive.

“There was a lot of discouragement because this took quite a while to play out,” Fladten said. “A lot of people have been praying daily, as I have. It’s just a great result we got tonight. It’s unbelievable. It’s like taking a big black cloud in the sky and getting rid of it and the sun comes out again.”

He acknowledged that Jayme may not be the same person she was before she disappeared.

“I hope that she’s in good shape,” the mayor said. “She’s no doubt been through just a terrible ordeal. I think everybody wishes her a good recovery and a happy life going into the future.”

The notification that Jayme had been found came just four hours after Fitzgerald had taken to Twitter to debunk a report that she had been found alive near Walworth County. Douglas County, where Jayme was found, is hundreds of miles northwest of Walworth County.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald
Associated Press

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