BARRON, Wis. (WCCO) — The news of Jayme Closs’ escape brought excitement and comfort to the students and staff in the Barron County School District.

Over the nearly three-month stretch Jayme was gone, Barron Area Schools Superintendent Diane Tremblay says the district did whatever it could to help investigators bring her home while also providing support to an emotional community.

“It’s a dream come true. I mean it really is a dream come true. It was everyone’s dream,” Tremblay said.

And for Tremblay, it’s now a reality.

Jayme Closs, a middle school student in her district, was abducted in the night seconds after her parents were killed. She is alive, safe and now home.

She learned the news in a phone call from Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald.

“One of the things he said was, ‘And you know it’s not gonna be public until 8 p.m., so we need to keep this quiet for a while,’ and I’m like, why did you tell me? I wanna shout it, I want to shout it off the rooftops,” Tremblay said.

Her excitement is expected given the fear and stress she and so many others consistently felt while Jayme was missing.

“We were on high alert,” Tremblay said.

One priority was helping investigators, including the FBI, who Tremblay says needed to interview students at the middle school while also inspecting computers, cell phones and more.

“I cannot believe how beautifully the families handled this,” Tremblay said. “I mean, I did not get one phone call regarding what was going on, not one, everyone participated in finding Jayme at all costs.”

But there would be difficulties regarding the case along the way.

“For instance, our staff would get an email saying, ‘Drop money at this link if you want to see Jayme home safe,'” Tremblay said.

Emails like those were forwarded to investigators while the school turned its focus to giving the community strength.

Tremblay helped organize a vigil at the high school while Jayme’s tree of hope was lit outside the middle school.

“Honestly, it doesn’t even feel like work when we put that together, it was just family getting together to keep each other hopeful,” Tremblay said.

Their prayers were answered. And when Sheriff Fitzgerald spoke those words at Friday’s press conference, Tremblay live-streamed it for students and staff to watch.

“Quite honestly, I can’t think of anything more important than seeing that press conference to really just bring the reality forward, that Jayme’s home,” Tremblay said.

Sunday evening, Sheriff Fitzgerald was on his way to Jayme’s aunt’s house to discuss Monday’s court proceeding. He said he was nervous and excited, for it would be the first time he’d have a chance to meet the young girl he spent three months trying to find.

Tremblay said the school is leaving the timetable and circumstances up to Jayme about returning to school. She says they will ease her back into that process when she’s ready.

Jeff Wagner


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