Sheriff: Jayme Closs, Wisconsin teenager missing since October, found alive

Jayme Closs (Photo credit: Barron County Sheriff via CNN)

Authorities in northwestern Wisconsin say a 13-year-old girl who went missing in October after her parents were killed has been found alive.

The Barron County Sheriff's Department said on its Facebook page that Jayme Closs has been located Thursday and that a suspect was taken into custody.

Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald says the sheriff's office in Douglas County, about 70 miles north of Barron County, located the girl. A suspect was apprehended a short time later. The statement did not say where she was found or give any further information about the suspect.

Closs' grandfather, Robert Naiberg, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Jayme was being treated at a hospital.

Sue Allard, Jayme's aunt, told the Star Tribune that she could barely express her joy after learning the news Thursday night.

"Praise the Lord," Allard said 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."

The sheriff's office plans to hold a news conference Friday morning to discuss the case.

Jayme Closs has been missing since her parents were found dead Oct. 15 at the family's home near Barron. Investigators said Jayme was quickly ruled out as a suspect.

Detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches in the effort to find Jayme. Some tips led officials to recruit 2,000 volunteers for a massive ground search on Oct. 23.

Fitzgerald said in November that he kept similar cases in the back of his mind as he worked to find Jayme, including the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, who was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, when she was 14 years old. She was rescued nine months later with the help of two witnesses who recognized her abductors from an "America's Most Wanted" episode.

"I have a gut feeling she's (Jayme's) still alive. I've always been a glass half-full kind of guy," Fitzgerald said at the time.

Barron Mayor Ron Fladten said Thursday night he hadn't heard any details about Jayme's discovery yet but was overjoyed at learning she is alive.

"There was a lot of discouragement because this took quite a while to play out," Fladten said. "A lot of people have been praying daily, as I have. It's just a great result we got tonight. It's unbelievable. It's like taking a big black cloud in the sky and getting rid of it and the sun comes out again."

He acknowledged that Closs may not be the same person she was before she disappeared.

"I hope that she's in good shape," the mayor said. "She's no doubt been through just a terrible ordeal. I think everybody wishes her a good recovery and a happy life going into the future."

Closs' cousin Lacey Naiberg posted on Facebook after the Barron County sheriff reported that the 13-year-old Wisconsin girl had been found.

Naiberg wrote "there are no words to describe" the feeling of having so many people come together to help. She asks people to continue to pray for "Jayme's well-being and our families healing."

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