It's been a year since Jayme Closs was kidnapped and held captive for 88 days in a rural cabin after her parents were shot to death. Now the Wisconsin teen is thanking her supporters and expressing her resolve.
Closs, now 14, set her focus on the future, a day before the one-year anniversary of James and Denise Closs' slaying inside the family’s Barron, Wisconsin home at the hands of an intruder who was obsessed with their daughter.
“I really want to thank everyone for all the kindness and concern that all over the country have shown me,” she wrote in a statement that was read aloud by her parent guardian during a press conference held on Monday. “I am very happy at home and getting back to the activities I enjoy. I love being out with all my friends and I feel stronger every day.“
Closs family attorney, Chris Gramstrup, also said the teen had an “extremely busy summer” spending time with her close family, hiking, attending weddings and celebrating her birthday.
“She continues to work very, very hard on her emotional well-being,” Gramstrup said, according to The Spooner Advocate. “She's moving forward courageously and she's reclaiming her life. Her incredible spirit and strength continue to inspire everyone around her.”
The Barron County Sheriff’s Department also honored those who helped bring Closs’ abductor, Jake Patterson, to justice.
Barron County prosecutor Brian Wright called for people to remember what happened and expressed gratitude to those who never gave up.
“Today is a day of thanks to everyone who prayed and held on to hope that Jayme would return home safely,” he said.
Wright went on to praise the work of Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald for spreading the word of the case and getting her photo circulated so people throughout the state were keenly aware of her.
"In the end, it was by and large because of that work that he did [so] that on Jan. 10, 2019, when Jayme bravely escaped, that the person who first saw her immediately recognized her," Wright said.
Patterson, 21, confessed to investigators that he knew Closs “was the girl he was going to take” after watching her getting on a school bus nearby her home, according to the criminal complaint.
A widespread search for Closs ensued, with thousands volunteering to search for any clues that would lead to her whereabouts.
But Patterson kept the missing girl out of sight and far-removed in a cabin in Gordon, Wisconsin, 60 miles away from her home.
Closs managed to slip away from the cabin while Patterson was out and approached a woman who was walking her dog in the neighborhood. The woman quickly called authorities.
At Patterson's sentencing back in May, a statement from Closs was read in court and reinforced her determination to move forward.
“He thought that he could own me but he was wrong. I was smarter,” she said, according to the statement. “I was brave and he was not. ... He thought he could make me like him, but he was wrong. ... For 88 days he tried to steal me and he didn’t care who he hurt or who he killed to do that. He should be locked up forever.”
Judge James Babler called Patterson the “embodiment of evil” before giving him a pair of consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole on the murder charges. He added 25 years of prison time for kidnapping Closs.
“There’s no doubt in my mind you’re one of the most dangerous men to ever walk on this planet,” Babler said.
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