Updated: October 14, 2019 06:06 PM
The Wisconsin girl whose parents were fatally shot before she was kidnapped say's she is feeling stronger every day.
Jayme Closs was kidnapped and held captive for 88 days last year before escaping from her captivity.
She says she is thankful for the kindness and concern expressed to her from people all over the country in the year since the crime.
The statement was read as the Barron County Sheriff's Office in Wisconsin honored the hard work done with the Jayme Closs case, nearly one year after she was abducted from her home.
Jayme's parents—James and Denise Closs—were found shot and killed on Oct. 15 last year.
Jayme was missing for 88 days before she was able to escape from her kidnapper.
Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Monday that he wanted to take time to thank those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes and try to turn the anniversary of a "bad day" into something good. Those who worked on the case received a small memento with a plaque that read "never give up hope." Sheriff Fitzgerald said from start to finish, investigation to conviction took 7 months, "it was the longest running active Amber Alert in Wisconsin history and the largest case for the Wisconsin Crime Lab."
700 pieces of evidence were collected and 32,000 reports were filed.
The case began with a 911 call that led officers to the Closs home last October. After finding James and Denise Closs dead in the home, they learned Jayme was missing.
A nationwide search was launched and involved the FBI, K9s, hundreds of volunteers and the analysis of 4,000 tips.
Then, on a January day, a woman walking a dog in the remote town of Gordon, Wisconsin, came across a disheveled teen who said a man had killed her parents and she needed help.
Jayme had escaped from a nearby cabin where she'd been held captive by a stranger for 88 days.
That man, Jake Patterson, later told police he'd decided to take Jayme after seeing her get on a school bus.
He admitted to killing her parents and is now serving a life sentence in prison.
In a statement issued at the time of the sentencing, Jayme wrote to the judge overseeing the case that Patterson thought he could control her but could never steal her spirit and that she plans to "go on to do great things."
The Sheriff said Jayme has returned to school, reconnected with friends and resumed running and dancing. Over the summer, she hung out at the county fair, went hiking and celebrated her 14th birthday.
The Barron County sheriff said the family of Jayme Closs is asking for privacy, so Monday's events were focused more on honoring the investigators who worked on the case, but a statement from Closs was read by family attorney Chris Gramstrup.
"She continues to work very, very hard on her emotional well-being," Gramstrup said. "She's moving forward courageously and reclaiming her life. Her incredible spirit and strength continues to inspire everyone around her."
The sheriff said he hopes it can serve as a message of hope for the community and for other cases involving missing children.
Representatives of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, out of Washington, D.C., were in attendance as well as authorities focused on the high number of children who are still missing and need to be found. Robert Lowery with NCMEC said there are 40 children still missing from Wisconsin.
One of those missing is Sara Bushland, who was riding the bus home from school in April 1996 and disappeared from Spooner where her family lived, "a lot of Jayme's case pulled at our heart strings, because she got off the school bus too and was never seen again," replied her sister Lesley Small.
Sara Bushland has been missing for 23 years now.
The National Center for Exploited and Missing Children reviewed data over a five year period and realized 5,000 kids had been recovered. Some were missing for months, others for years.
Sara's dad, Mike Bushland stepped up and said, "we know someone out there knows something and we need them to step up with a helping hand."
Never give up hope...that is the message from the press conference in Barron Co... pic.twitter.com/IgIAHKRgbH— Beth McDonough (@bmcdonoughkstp) October 14, 2019
You can watch the full press conference below.
KSTP & Beth McDonough
Updated: October 14, 2019 06:06 PM
Published: October 14, 2019 12:00 AM
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