Jayme Closs, the Wisconsin teenager who escaped her abductor two years ago, is surrounded by loved ones and doing well, her aunt said.
Closs’ aunt and guardian, Jennifer Naiberg Smith, said in a statement on Monday the teen is taking life “day by day.”
“Jayme is doing good,” Smith said. “She is enjoying dance, school activities and many other things as much as is possible in regards to now dealing with the covid restrictions. She is surrounded by lots of loved ones.”
Closs was 13-years-old when, on Jan. 10, 2019, she fled the home of the man who fatally shot her parents and then kidnapped her. The teen was found wandering in the small town of Gordon, about 70 miles from her home in Barron, by a neighbor who was out walking her dog.
The neighbor, Jeanne Nutter, took Closs to the home of Kristin and Peter Kasinskas and asked them to call 911.
In her statement this week, Smith thanked Nutter and the Kasinskases for helping Closs.
“We are very thankful for everything that happened on this day two years ago; for Jayme’s bravery and for Jeanne, Peter and Kristen for all being in the right place, at the right time and keeping Jayme safe,” she said. “We’re still very thankful for the community, to the whole world for all caring and being there, and to law enforcement who worked tirelessly to seek justice.”
Closs was abducted from her home in Barron in October 2018. Her captor, Jake Patterson, broke into the family’s home, fatally shot her parents, and then took Closs.
According to a criminal complaint, he had been to the home twice to plan the abduction. On the day of the kidnapping, Closs was awakened by the family dog and saw Patterson approaching the home in his vehicle, the complaint states. She then woke up her parents.
Her father, James Closs, was at the front door when he was fatally shot. The teen and her mother, Denise Closs, were hiding in a bathtub behind a shower curtain when Patterson kicked the door in.
The complaint states that Patterson tied up the teen and gagged her with tape before fatally shooting Denise.
Deputies were called to the home after getting a 911 call from Denise’s cellphone. But by the time they arrived minutes later, Closs was gone.
For the next 88 days, the teen was forced to live under a bed in Patterson’s cabin. Authorities said it was barricaded with storage boxes and other weights, but she managed to escape.
Patterson was arrested shortly after Closs was found. He was charged in connection to her kidnapping and her parents’ murders. He pleaded guilty in March 2019 and was sentenced to life in prison.
In a letter to NBC affiliate KARE, Patterson said his motive for kidnapping Closs was “not black and white.” He had previously told investigators that he targeted Closs as “the girl he was going to take” after spotting her getting on a school bus near her home, the criminal complaint states.
Smith said in her statement she wanted to “remind others never take life for granted.”
“You never know what tomorrow will bring. Always remember to take the time to tell your loved ones you love them.”