BARRON, Wis. (WCCO) — Elizabeth Smart shares a heartbreaking spotlight with Jayme Closs.
The two are both nationally-recognized kidnapping victims — now survivors — who were able to break free.
On Friday night, Smart spoke to a crowd of hundreds at Barron High School on how to move forward after the unimaginable.
“I was taken away from my family. I was taken up into the mountains, behind my home, where my captor told me that I was now going to be his wife, that I was now going to be their slave,” said Smart.
As Closs begins to heal, Smart talked about her experience, giving tips on how people can make her feel comfortable when she returns to normal life and school.
“I was a very similar age to Jayme when I was kidnapped and it was the most terrifying experience of my entire life,” Smart said.
Jayme’s abduction and the killing of her parents still sends chills through this town of 3,400 people.
Carol Dahlstrom lives just a mile and a half from where Jayme was taken and was with her granddaughters when the abduction happened.
“It changes your whole outlook on everything, everything you do, you wonder where they are — be within arm’s reach of me,” said Dahlstrom. “It’s just everything.”
But out of the darkest tragedy, Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald says Closs’ return has brought about a new light of hope.
“This community has changed, but in a great way. Obviously, the 88 days were really rough on a lot of us, but this community has grown from that and become stronger,” Fitzgerald said.
Smart has been in contact with Closs and her family on a personal level.
While she was in Barron, Smart also took time to meet the members of law enforcement who worked so hard on this case.