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'This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!': Northern Wisconsin residents describe the moments they found missing girl

Liz Sawyer, Mary Lynn Smith And Karen Zamora, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old girl missing since her parents were shot to death in their Barron, Wis., home three months ago, was found bedraggled and malnourished but alive Thursday after seeking help from neighbors in a remote rural area in northwestern Wisconsin.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald announced late Thursday afternoon that his agency had been notified by the sheriff in Douglas County, two counties to the north, that Jayme had been found there.

According to the Douglas County sheriff, Jayme was found east of the town of Gordon at 4:43 p.m. Thursday, and a suspect was arrested minutes later. She was being examined at a hospital late Thursday night and was to be reunited with family members.

Before dawn Friday in Barron, the Dairy Queen sign was flashing, "Welcome home Jayme. Thank you for bringing her home."

Residents of an area of woods and cabins about 9 miles east of Gordon described the dramatic moment when Jayme was found. Kristin Kasinskas, a teacher at the nearby Northwood School who lives on S. Eau Claire Acres Circle with her husband, Peter, and children, said that around 4 p.m., a neighbor walking a dog frantically knocked on their door.

Standing with her was a skinny, dirty girl with matted hair, wearing shoes too big for her feet.

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"This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!" the neighbor said.

Jayme was quiet, her emotions "pretty flat," Peter Kasinskas said.

The woman who found Jayme asked that her name not be used, saying she was exhausted and unnerved by the dramatic events of the day. In a phone interview late Thursday, she said that Jayme "came up to me and said she wanted help."

She said she was pretty sure who the girl was, adding that most everyone who lives in Wisconsin has seen Jayme's photo on the news or on posters hung up by businesses.

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