The sheriff in Wisconsin’s Barron County made a big announcement Thursday night: Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old girl who had been missing since her parents were found fatally shot, has been found alive.
A suspect was taken into custody just minutes after Jayme was found at 4:43 p.m. local time Thursday, according to the sheriff in Douglas County, Wis., where she was located.
In a statement Thursday evening, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald called the investigation “very fluid and active,” and said Jayme would be reunited with relatives that night. A press conference is planned for Friday morning.
On Thursday afternoon, a girl who looked skinny, dirty and wearing shoes too big for her approached a woman out walking her dog and asked for help, the woman told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The woman, who asked the newspaper not to use her name, said she was nearly certain it was Jayme, having seen her photo on the news and posters around Wisconsin. The girl confirmed she was indeed Jayme Closs.
The woman says she took Jayme to a nearby home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas and told them to call 911. The girl said she’d been abducted and had escaped from a house where she had been left alone, Peter Kasinskas told Wisconsin Public Radio.
“I honestly still think I’m dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost,” Peter Kasinskas told the Star-Tribune. “It was scary and awesome at the same time. My jaw just went to the floor.”
Jayme went missing on Oct. 15, when authorities found her parents shot to death at the family’s home near Barron, a town about 75 miles northeast of Minneapolis. Authorities said they believed Jayme was not a runaway and was in danger.
An initial ground search yielded no clues, but a second ground search by more than 2,000 people resulted in several items of interest to investigators, The Associated Press reports. In December, hundreds of people in Barron gathered in a lighting ceremony to honor Jayme.
She was found alive in the town of northwest Wisconsin town of Gordon, about 60 miles from where she had gone missing.
Her grandfather, Robert Naiberg, told The AP that his daughter told him that Jayme had been held by “a guy in the woods” but had managed to flee.
“I’m going to hug her. Squeeze her,” Naiberg told the Star-Tribune. “I’ve been in the dumpster for three months.”
“We are just happy everyone kept praying and didn’t give up hope, like we didn’t,” Jennifer Smith, her aunt and godmother, told ABC News on Thursday evening. “A lot of happy tears in this house tonight.”