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Chance encounter on a back road cracked the Jayme Closs case

John Reinan and Pam Louwagie, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

GORDON, Wis. -- The sun was dipping below the tops of the pines as Jeanne Nutter clipped the leash on Henry, her 3-year-old golden retriever.

It had been a two-hour drive from Nutter's home near Eau Claire to her backwoods cabin here in northern Wisconsin, and Henry needed his walk as soon as they arrived.

Stepping carefully on the icy, remote road, the pair began their regular circuit down a forest-enclosed path through the cluster of about 30 homes nestled along the Eau Claire River. In the deep winter, many of the homes are empty. People are scarce.

Nutter calls it "my place I come for comfort and peace."

Then she saw the girl: skinny, ragged, walking unsteadily. And with such strange clothing: shoes too big for her feet, dirty leggings, an oversized sweatshirt. No gloves or hat in 19-degree weather. Matted, dirty hair that looked like dreadlocks.

"I'm lost and I don't know where I am. I need help," the girl said calmly.

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"I thought it was UPS or something. And then Jeanne walks in and says, 'This is Jayme Closs. Call 911,'?" said Peter Kasinskas, neighbor of Jeanne Nutter, above with Henry.

Right away, Nutter knew.

The pictures had been everywhere: in the newspapers, on TV, on Facebook, on posters, signs and buttons.

The retired social worker put her arms around Jayme Closs, missing for 88 days, and drew her close.

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