BARRON, Wis. (WCCO) — In the 88 days 13-year-old Jayme Closs was missing, one person felt the responsibility of finding her perhaps more than anyone else.
Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald spoke with Christiane Cordero on Saturday to share the highs and lows of the search efforts and what he learned along the way.
Even with Jayme Closs safe, when you ask Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald about how he’s doing, he defers. Right now, it’s not about him. It’s about her.
“Now she can at least wake up to people smiling at her, doing what she wants to do. If she wants to call her friends today or do whatever, she can do that,” Fitzgerald said.
After all, his investigation is far from over. Authorities spent the day gathering evidence from the Gordon, Wisconsin, home where they say she was held captive, trying to learn more about the person who will be charged with kidnapping her.
“We’ll be looking for receipts and places he went the last 88 days, did he take her anywhere,” Fitzgerald said.
She, at the very least, ended up in Gordon after she was taken from her Barron home on Oct. 15, when her parents were fatally shot.
Just four minutes passed between the 911 call from Denise Closs’ phone to the moment police arrived. Jayme was nowhere in sight.
When asked if anything was missed during those first few minutes at the scene, Sheriff Fitzgerald said he doesn’t believe so.
“I think that was well-planned out. And so I think when you look at that, we were always looking for a connection. Someone was connected with the Closs family,” Fitzgerald said.
Right now, police have no reason to believe the Closs family knew the arrested suspect, Jake Patterson, but they do believe Jayme was specifically targeted.
“And obviously the million dollar question is ‘why?’ and we need to find that out either by talking with Jayme or the suspect, but when we find that out we might be able to fill in some of the gaps of the investigation,” Fitzgerald said.
It will take time, as will the healing and the hope of the community he serves.
“Yeah, it’ll be stronger. Now we get to survive and move forward on the will of a 13-year-old girl. We can do anything now,” Fitzgerald said.
To help that process, officials have set up a 211 hotline for people struggling. On Friday, the school superintendent said she plans to throw some kind of a celebration for Jayme, when the time is right.