SIREN, Wis. (WCCO) — The story of Jayme Closs is giving hope to other families with missing children in Wisconsin. Sara Bushland, 15, was last seen getting off her school bus in Spooner 23 years ago.

Her family’s search for answers is now featured in a documentary retracing the day she disappeared.

(credit: CBS)

It was April 3, 1996, when Sara Bushland went missing. Decades later, a girl 30 miles away in Barron is boosting their spirits.

“I’m just so happy for them,” Sara’s sister, Lesley Small, said.

Lesley Small has spent most of her life looking for answers in her sister’s case. This past fall, that search took her back to the home Sara shared with her mom, stepdad and stepbrothers where signs ordered a family to keep secrets as you can see on the walls in the movie trailer.

“You want to say you grew up and had a great childhood and that wasn’t the case. So you’re vulnerable. But, we have to tell Sara’s story in order to find her,” Small said.

Sara’s story will be told by a Minnesota filmmaker in a soon-to-be-released documentary dedicated to moving the case forward.

“So many people through the years have asked me, ‘What do you think? Is she alive, is she not?’ And I can never say either way because there is no proof of that, so I can’t give up that hope,” Small said.

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Sara disappeared long before the days of social media when the most they could do was put up posters.

“Almost daily I get a message, I’m from the area and I never even knew she was missing,” Small said.

As her sister makes every effort now to change that, she’s still waiting for an end to Sara’s story.

“Whoever knows what happened to her, it’s time to do what’s right. It’s time to let us know what happened,” Small said.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports Sara as one of 52 in Wisconsin to go missing as a child. Her family is expected to meet with the new sheriff of Washburn County who they say has plans to revisit the case.

Liz Collin