MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One month later, a new reality still does not seem quite real for Jennifer Smith.
“Our lives have just been turned upside down. It’s been like a big, horrifying nightmare,” said Smith.
Her world changed forever the morning of October 15.
Her sister, Denise, and her brother-in-law, James, had both been shot dead.
Jayme, her precious niece and goddaughter, was gone without a trace.
“I keep thinking maybe it’s targeted, yeah, I don’t know, because what else? I can’t come up with anything, as much as my mind keeps going and trying to think of something, I cannot, I cannot. Why this would ever happen,” she said.
Just hours before, Jayme and Denise were at Smith’s home, celebrating a family birthday. James was at work. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
“Jayme was quiet, but that’s normal. She’s quiet when we have like big gatherings, that’s just how she always has been,” said Smith.
Multiple searches, an AMBER Alert, thousands of tips, and still nothing has led investigators closer to the 13-year-old girl.
Smith said it stings to read some of the theories and rumors posted online.
“Especially the ones, you know, ‘Jayme’s got a 26-year-old boyfriend,’ ‘Jayme’s got a 19-year-old boyfriend.’ She didn’t have a boyfriend. I would’ve known, the family would’ve known,” said Smith.
As Jayme’s dog, Molly, continues to wait patiently for her best friend, Smith is holding onto hope tightly that her niece will find her way back into the arms of her family.
“We will not give up to bring that girl home. We love her more than anything, and we know that my sister and my brother-in-law will never have closure. They won’t, they won’t have closure. I mean, we won’t have closure. Their hearts will never rest, they won’t rest in peace until their daughter’s found,” she said.
Smith tells WCCO-TV the family has asked to listen to the 911 call made from Denise Closs’ cellphone that night, but authorities will not let them. It is still considered evidence in an active investigation.
The AMBER Alert issued for Jayme on October 15 remains active.
Wisconsin deer hunting licenses will have information on Jayme Closs printed on them, like her height, weight and what to look for in the woods. The state’s nine-day firearm deer hunt starts on Saturday.