MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An army of volunteers is searching in northwestern Wisconsin for 13-year-old Jayme Closs Thursday.
She vanished from her home in Barron early Monday morning. Someone inside the Closs home called 911 on a cellphone just before 1 a.m. Law enforcement arrived four minutes later to find James and Denise Closs dead, and Jayme gone. Investigators fear she is in danger.
Closs is currently on the FBI’s list of Kidnappings and Missing Persons.
Volunteers have been key in this entire process, and Thursday afternoon the Barron County Sheriff’s office asked for help in conducting a routine search to look for evidence that may be related to Jayme’s disappearance.
The sheriff asked for 100 volunteers, but it is estimated that three times that many showed up — and dozens had to be turned away. Making her way home from work, Keley Geraghty knew she had to stop and offer to help in the search for Jayme.
“It’s just heart wrenching. I just hope that they can find her and they find her alive,” Geraghty said.
Volunteers were put in small groups to search fields and ditches over a roughly 15-mile stretch from Barron to Turtle Lake.
“I have two kids around the same age and I would want people doing the same,” said volunteer Courtney Johnson.
Whether they know Jayme or not, her disappearance has become personal for many.
“I’ve got granddaughters and a daughter, so I don’t want this stuff to happen anymore,” said volunteer Pete Cole.
As the search continues for Jayme, there is also concern for her classmates and other children around Barron. The Department of Justice has deployed emergency resources to help kids deal with the trauma. Counselors and therapy dogs are now available at Riverview Middle School, where Jayme is an eighth grader.
“Is this something that could happen to me? You know, what kinds of concerns might they have? Are they safe in their own communities? Who among us could have done something like this?” said Kristin Devitt of the Office of School Safety. “We want to address those concerns and provide them a safe place to express them without any judgment.”
For people around town, life goes on as questions remain: Who killed James and Denise Closs? And where is their daughter? Answers have been elusive so far.
“This happened to our town, you know? We don’t know why. Like, we don’t understand it,” said Leanna Kauffman of Barron Bakery.
A cousin of Denise Closs told WCCO-TV they are heartbroken over what happened to James and Denise, and they are doing everything they can to bring Jayme home. They are asking for thoughts and prayers and for people to hang up missing persons posters around the Barron County area.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said more than 800 tips have come in, but no leads have emerged publicly in the case that has shaken the town to its core.
Fitzgerald did not hold a press briefing for the media on Thursday. In a written release, he said no significant evidence was found during the search.
Investigators put out a call Thursday morning requesting businesses and residents along Highway 8 to allow them access to security and trail cameras. The sheriff’s office told WCCO-TV all businesses that were contacted have complied.
Anyone with information is urged to call 1-855-744-3879.