‘This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!’ Woman describes how missing teen ended up at her door
WISCONSIN — Kristin Kasinskas was at home Thursday evening when she heard a knock on the door. When she opened it, her neighbor was standing next to a skinny girl with unkempt hair and oversized shoes.
“This is Jayme Closs!” the neighbor said, according to an account Kasinskas gave to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Call 911!”
With those words, the frantic search for Jayme ended 87 days after she vanished on October 15, the same night her parents were found dead in their home near Barron, northwestern Wisconsin. She was found Thursday in the Wisconsin town of Gordon — about 70 miles north of where she was last seen.
As the stunned neighbors stood at the door, Jayme did not say a word.
She asked a dog walker for help
The neighbor was walking her dog when Jayme approached and asked for help, according to Kasinskas, a local teacher.
The woman was so unnerved, she did not want to be identified, the Star Tribune reported. She told the paper that when Jayme walked up to her, she immediately knew who she was.
They rushed to the nearest home, which happened to be Kasinskas’. As they waited for authorities, Jayme declined food and water, and instead met Kasinskas’ puppy.
“I honestly still think I’m dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost,” her husband, Peter Kasinskas, told the paper.
Authorities said Jayme was found shortly before 5 p.m., and a suspect was arrested 10 minutes later.
Good news after a day of rumors
Jayme was hospitalized shortly after she was found, her aunt Sue Allard said.
“Oh my gosh,” Allard told CNN affiliate WCCO between sobs. “There was rumors earlier today, and I prayed and prayed and they come to not be true. And I just shut myself totally down. I thought today was going to be the day, and then I find out two hours later that she’s found and I just cannot believe this.”
No more details were immediately available, but authorities plan to have a news conference Friday morning.
Jayme’s cousin, Seara Closs, shared her relief on social media.
“She is alive and on her way home from the bottom of my heart thank you all for the help!” she posted on Facebook. “I can never repay each and everyone one of you for posting and sharing and contributing to the search of my cousin Jayme Closs!”
Mysterious 911 call
Since Jayme disappeared, authorities had said they believe she’s in danger. Her parents, James and Denise Closs, were found shot dead in their home the same night she went missing.
Investigators say a mysterious 911 call led deputies to discover the bodies. When the dispatcher called the number back, a voice mail greeting indicated the phone belonged to Denise Closs. The log does not indicate who made the 911 call, but the dispatcher heard yelling in the background.
Police arrived to find the door kicked in but no one was there. Investigators said they believed Jayme was at home during the shooting.
Thousands of people joined search parties for months as investigators received thousands of tips. The FBI offered a cash reward for information on her whereabouts and hunters in the area were urged to be on the lookout for clues.
Months of searches and thousands of tips have not yielded any clues. But Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said they never got tired of looking for Jayme.
“We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “This case has been very trying on the family so please respect their privacy and we reunite them later tonight.”
He also thanked the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, which responded to the scene when Jayme was found, and other law enforcement agencies that helped in the search.
Barron is 90 miles east of Minneapolis.