MINNEAPOLIS - Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old girl missing since her parents were found shot to death in their Barron, Wis., home three months ago, was found alive in northern Wisconsin on Thursday evening and was being reunited with her family.
"The Barron County (Wis.) Sheriff's Department was notified by the Douglas County (Wis.) Sheriff's Department that they had located Jayme Closs alive," Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in a news release.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Jayme was found near the town of Gordon at 4:43 p.m. Thursday, and a suspect was arrested minutes later. She was being examined at a hospital and was to be reunited with family members later Thursday night.
Authorities declined to release any further information, saying that a news conference will be held in Barron County at 10 a.m. Friday.
"This is a very fluid and active investigation," Fitzgerald said.
Jayme disappeared Oct. 15 from her rural home about two miles outside of Barron, where her parents, James and Denise, were found shot to death. She had not been seen or heard from since. Several intensive searches took place in the area, but none yielded any clues, and for weeks Fitzgerald has been saying that authorities have no new leads.
Sue Allard, Jayme's aunt, overwhelmed and crying, could barely express her joy after learning the news Thursday night. "Praise the Lord," she said in between sobs. "It's the news we've been waiting on for three months. I can't wait to get my arms around her. I just can't wait."
Allard said she and other family members didn't have a lot of details about what happened, and they were asked by authorities not to say too much about what they do know. She confirmed that Jayme was found alive somewhere near Duluth.
Earlier Thursday evening, Fitzgerald knocked down a rumor spreading on social media that Jayme had been found in Walworth County in southeastern Wisconsin after people reported a large police presence there, saying that it was "false news."
"That was just fake stuff that was out there," Jayme's grandfather, Robert Naiberg, said late Thursday. But the news he got about 7 p.m. was real, he said.
A source with knowledge of the investigation told the Star Tribune that Jayme escaped from a home in rural Gordon and approached a neighbor, identifying herself and saying she'd been kidnapped, and asked the neighbor to call 911.
"All I know is that they got her and that they're checking her out at a hospital," Naiberg said.
He will get to see her Friday, he said. "I'm going to hug her. Squeeze her," Naiberg said, his voice cracking.
There were days when it was hard to hold onto hope, he said. "I've been in the dumpster for three months," he said.