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'It's Brought The Community Closer': 3 Years Ago, Jayme Closs Kidnapped In NW Wisconsin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The murder-and-kidnapping case rocked a small northwestern Wisconsin community. This Friday marks three years since James and Denise Closs died in a brutal break-in and a stranger abducted their daughter Jayme, who broke free from captivity 88 days later.

The site of where the nightmare began inside the Closs home has since been demolished.

WCCO went back to Barron to find a town dedicated to protecting Jayme, while holding onto the message of hope that brought her home.

Mornings at Seasons Café in Barron are best known for hot coffee and home-style cooking. There, reflecting on dark moments from three years ago is still difficult.

Rod Nordby grew up there and can't help but think about all his community's been through.

"When it initially happened, it was quite a shock for the community. We're not used to stuff like that happening here," Rod Nordby told us. "I think it helps everyone not to have to drive by the scene and know that's what happened there."

Jackie Raven worked with Jayme's parents at the turkey plant in town.

"I think it's brought the community closer together, you know," she remarked. "They were good people very good people yep. Hard working people."

She says residents here have rallied around Jayme, who is now 16 and a high school student.

Barron Wisconsin Generic
(credit: CBS)

In January, her aunt shared that she is enjoying dance and school activities, surrounded by loved ones. Closs's family asked law enforcement not to talk about another anniversary but instead to keep the focus on other missing kids and the hope for more happy endings.

Where cameras once lined the Barron County Justice Center for any news on this case, the faces of other kids are a reminder of the work that goes on.

Angeline Hartmann, with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said Closs's escape gave others hope.

"Jayme's story is the reason why we do what we do," Hartmann said.

She says that families still cling to her story to this day.

"They think when and how and hopefully can this possibly happen to my family," Hartmann said.

Meanwhile, a town continues to look out for one of their own.

"I think Jayme is doing as well as she can," Nordby remarked. "Barron is a very tight knit group. they stand behind things like this. I'm very proud of my town. We're really happy for her and her new family. Life goes on."

Jake Patterson is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to the crimes.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children encourages everyone to find out who's missing from your own area. Then share their picture on social media. The group says you never know when it could make a difference.


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