A 13-year-old girl who disappeared the same night her parents were shot to death in their rural Wisconsin home nearly three months ago was found alive Thursday night, the authorities said.
Details are scarce, but the girl, Jayme Closs, was discovered early in the evening by officers from Douglas County, north of her hometown, Barron, Wisconsin, according to a Facebook post from the Barron County Sheriff’s Department. The family was notified at about 7:30 p.m.
“We’re very happy that she is alive,” her uncle Jeff Closs wrote in a text message to a reporter. “We don’t know much else.” Jayme was in a hospital and being evaluated, he said.
Just when the family started to give up hope, Closs wrote, “we got the greatest news ever.”
The double homicide of James and Denise Closs, a quiet couple who worked at the local turkey plant, and the mystery of their daughter’s disappearance Oct. 15, riveted Barron, a town of just over 3,400. A manhunt drew 2,100 tips and thousands of volunteers. The local police force of 78 swelled to a corps of 200 federal, state and local officers in a hunt that went on day and night.
In a news release, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Jayme was “located alive in the town of Gordon in Douglas County at 4:43 p.m.” It added, “A suspect was taken into custody at 4:54 p.m., also in the town of Gordon.” There were no more details.
On Thursday night, shortly after Jayme was found, Barron’s sheriff, Chris Fitzgerald, confirmed in a text message that Jayme had been located: “2 separate incidents tonight, one was false and one was true,” he wrote, but declined to elaborate further. “I am not making comments tonight except to say she was found.”
But Jayme’s return was still shrouded in as much mystery as her disappearance. No motive had been discovered for her parents’ killings, and no weapon had been found. A news conference was scheduled for 10 a.m. local time Friday in Barron, officials said. But for her extended family, an agonizing episode nearly three months long was at last over.
“I honestly had faith,” Kelly Engelhardt, Jayme’s aunt, said in an interview with a television station Thursday night. “I figured if they hadn’t found her by now that the person that did this didn’t want her dead. So I had hope.”
Jayme’s disappearance drew national attention to the town about 90 miles northeast of the Twin Cities. Her name topped the FBI’s missing persons list as the reward for her recovery grew to $50,000, and all over town, shops and homes hung green ribbons bearing the words “Find Jayme Closs,” and displayed green banners on their social media pages.
On social media Thursday night, they rejoiced.
Her cousin Seara Closs wrote: “`She is alive and on her way home from the bottom of my heart thank you all for the help!!! I can never repay each and everyone one of you for posting and sharing and contributing to the search of my cousin Jayme Closs!!!! Thank you so much everyone!!!! I love you all”
Lynn Closs, her aunt, also posted as the news was spreading. “We have her,” she wrote.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.