'Tree of Hope' lit for missing teen Jayme Closs in Barron

January 11, 2019 06:37 AM

The city of Barron, Wisconsin held a "tree of hope" lighting ceremony Wednesday in honor of missing 13-year-old Jayme Closs.

The local middle school student has been missing since her parents were slain Oct. 15. James and Denise Closs were fatally shot in their home, and investigators believe Jayme was abducted.

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“The darker it gets, the brighter the light of hope shines,” said Pastor Ron Mathews, of the First Lutheran Church.
 

RELATED: 'Tree of hope' to be lit in Barron for Jayme Closs

The event, held at Riverview Middle School, featured the lighting of a 16-foot tree that included messages of hope from classmates and others. The effort was coordinated by the school and Hormel Foods and Jennie-O Turkey Store, which employed both of Closs's parents.

Students spent the afternoon decorating the tree. And Closs' family members were surrounded by a large crowd as the ceremony began.

“We just want Jayme home and we pray every day, we just hope for her safe return,” said Mike Closs, James’ brother.

As the tree was lit, the Land of Lakes boys choir sang "I Believe."

“In the midst of our pain, our fear, our sadness, we are called to hope,” said Mathews.

The released dozens of lanterns into the sky, including one for James, one for Denise and a green lantern for Jayme.

"There isn't a day that goes by that we don't think of them and Jayme," said Jeremy Miller of the Jennie-O Turkey Store where Denise and James Closs worked.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald thanked the community for its support and promised to bring Jayme home.

RELATED: Investigators conducting more interviews in search for Jayme Closs

"While this case has been heartbreaking, it's been heartwarming at the same time," he said of the way the community has rallied together.

The investigation is still active. Sheriff Fitzgerald said state and federal investigators continue to comb through surveillance footage.

There are still few answers.

“It’s tough to build profiles when you don’t know who the target is,” said Sheriff Fitzgerald. “We still do not know who the target in this case is, if it was James, Denise, Jayme or random. Again, I don’t  believe it was random.”

He said they also don’t think it was a robbery.

“There was nothing out of place, nothing missing from the house that we know of,” he said.

Fewer than 20 tips a day are coming in. Sheriff Fitzgerald believes there is a tip that will lead to Jayme.

He again asked the community to report behavioral changes in friends and family because it could be the clue that breaks the case.

Anyone with information on Jayme Closs is asked to call 1-855-744-3879 or email jaymetips@co.barron.wi.us.

KSTP's Callan Gray is in Barron and will have more on the ceremony coming up at 10 p.m.

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