MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The murder and kidnapping case has rattled a small community in northwest Wisconsin. This Friday, it’s been three years since James and Denise Closs died in a brutal theft and their daughter Jayme, who was released from captivity 88 days later, was abducted by a stranger.
Inside the Closs house, where the nightmare began, has since been demolished.
WCCO returns to Barron to find a town dedicated to protecting Jayme while keeping the message of hope that brought Jayme home.
Seasons Café in Barron is best known for hot coffee and home-style cooking in the morning. There, it’s still hard to reflect on the dark moments of three years ago.
Rod Nordby grew up there and can’t help thinking about what happened to his community.
“When it initially happened, it was quite a shock to the community. We’re not used to such things here,” said Rod Nordby. “I think it helps everyone not have to drive from the scene and know what’s going on there.”
Jackie Raven worked with Jayme’s family at the turkey factory in town.
“I think it brought the community closer together, you know,” he said. “They were good people, very good people, yes. Hardworking people.”
He says residents here are now centered around Jayme, a 16-year-old high school student.
In January, her aunt shared that she enjoyed dancing and school activities surrounded by loved ones. Closs’s family asked law enforcement not to talk about another anniversary, but instead to focus on other missing children and hopes for happier endings.
Once the cameras lined up the Barron County Justice Center for any news related to this case, other children’s faces are reminders of the work in progress.
Angeline Hartmann of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said Closs’ escape gave hope to others.
“Jayme’s story is the reason why we do what we do,” Hartmann said.
She says families still cling to her story to this day.
“They think about when and how and hopefully this could happen to my family,” Hartmann said.
Meanwhile, a town continues to search for one of their own.
“I think Jayme is doing his best,” Nordby said. “Barron is a very tightly knit group. They stand behind such things. I am very proud of my city. We are really happy for him and his new family. Life goes on.”
Jake Patterson is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children encourages everyone to find out who is missing in your area. Then share your photos on social media. The group says you never know when this might make a difference.