January 11, 2019 06:28 AM
2,000 people met off Wisconsin Highway 25 Tuesday, with one common goal: Finding anything that will help bring missing 13-year-old Jayme Closs home.
Law enforcement discovered her parents dead from gunshot wounds in their Barron County home last week, but the teenager was gone.
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Investigators believe Closs was at the home at the time of their homicides, but haven’t been able to locate her or the gun. And the Barron County Sheriff's Office believes she’s in danger.
They’ve so far eliminated 1,100 of the 1,400 leads they’ve received since Oct. 15. They're looking for more clues and enlisted the help of 2,000 volunteers like father Jesse Adams from Cumberland.
"There's a missing girl, if it were my family I would hope they would turn out," he said.
"We have our own kids and we just want to help where we can,” said Andrea Cox, a mother who volunteered to help.
Arika Mueller of St. Cloud and her husband drove all the way to Barron to lend a hand.
“We have a daughter the same age as Jayme, so we figured if something happened to her, we’d want people to come and search,” she said.
Others taking part were community members who wanted to do what they could.
“It’s tough when it hits close to home like that, so a bunch of people from work decided to come and help out,” searcher Rob Grivna said.
No one knew exactly what to expect.
“A little bit of fear of what we may find,” volunteer searcher Preston Cox said. “It does worry us.”
“It’s pretty emotional for a lot of people," Grivna added. “We’ll do our best and see what we can find.”
The volunteers were divided into 14 groups and set out to explore five square miles.
"Everyone is a neighbor, it feels like we're trying to help a neighbor," said Deb Rose of Osceola.
“Just trying to be positive or optimistic, hoping that we find something that’s going to lead to finding Jayme,” said Dan Johnson of Osceola. “Clothing, weapons-- anything.”
Johnson helped scour cornfields, looking for evidence. It was the largest search for Jayme since she went missing Oct. 15.
“I can just about imagine what it would be like to have that happen to one of my family members,” said Johnson.
Volunteers who noticed anything out of the ordinary marked the site with an orange flag and reported it to law enforcement for collection.
Some of the volunteers walked through neighborhoods in Barron, where they encountered more clothing and trash.
A relative, Searra Closs, posted a plea on Facebook, saying: "do this last thing for my Aunt Denise Closs and my Uncle Jim! Since Jayme was born protecting her was the only thing these two cared about."
All along Barron County, Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald has insisted Jayme's life is at risk too. Tuesday he said, "At this time we have no reason to believe she is involved and that is why she is entered as missing and endangered." He referred to the FBI's nationwide alert.
Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said items were collected during the search, which are being assessed, but it does not appear they are connected to Jayme’s disappearance.
This was the first search since investigators released two vehicles of interest in this case Monday. One is a red or orange Dodge Challenger. The second vehicle is either a black Ford Edge or a black Acura MDX. No suspects have been identified.
They were spotted on surveillance camera footage near the Closs family home around the time of the killings.
Meanwhile, according to their obituary, funeral services for Jayme's parents James and Denise Closs are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Cameron, Wisconsin. Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church. A private family burial will follow at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, an account in the name of The Closs Family Benefit has been set up at Sterling Bank's locations in Barron, Chetek, Luck and Rice Lake.
Katherine Johnson, Callan Gray & Beth McDonough
Updated: January 11, 2019 06:28 AM
Created: October 23, 2018 10:44 AM
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