BARRON, WIS. – Law enforcement officials here are again pleading for the public’s help in a desperate search to find 13-year-old Jayme Closs, who went missing after her parents were shot to death in their home five days ago.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald Friday asked the public to think about anybody they might know or have encountered in the past week who may have changed their behavior or routine since the murders and the girl’s disappearance.
“People may act differently shortly after committing a violent act,” he said in a Facebook post. “You may have observed such behaviors and not realized it at the time.”
Notable changes could include someone leaving town suddenly, consuming more drugs or alcohol, withdrawing from normal activities or altering their appearance or vehicle, according to the post.
The sheriff also is interested in any information about Jayme’s parents — Denise and James Closs — in hopes of finding answers to their murders and their daughter’s disappearance.
“If you spent time with members of the Closs family recently, or if you have ever had a misunderstanding with members of the Closs family, or know someone who has, please call the tip line,” the sheriff said.
Over the past five days, law enforcement officials have fielded more than 1,000 tips, conducted hundreds of interviews and searched a swath of Barron County looking for possible clues that could help them bring Jayme home and find her parents’ killer or killers.
Officials have transformed the county administrative offices into an emergency operation center with half-dozen people hunkered over phones and computers, fielding tips and calls. FBI agents have taken over the nearby family courtroom and the entrance to the offices has been cordoned off with yellow police crime tape, keeping at bay the media throng that has descended on the town of 3,300 people, located about 90 miles northeast of the Twin Cities.
As the search for Jayme continues, a community in search of answers is taking care of its own. Local merchants have kept law enforcement officials fed. On Friday, cookies made by schoolchildren were delivered to police.
In a development late Thursday, the FBI listed Jayme on its kidnapped and missing persons page. The agency said that “out of an abundance of caution” it was expanding its search for the teen nationwide by sending a digital “missing person” poster to media organizations and partners across the country for display.
Fitzgerald has said repeatedly this week that authorities believe Closs, who was in the home at the time of the killings, is alive but in danger.
Deputies found the bodies of James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, after responding to a 911 call that came from the home shortly before 1 a.m. Monday. According to the 911 log, no one from the home spoke with dispatchers, who could hear “a lot of yelling” in the background.
The call came from a cellphone belonging to Denise Closs, according to an emergency call log released by the Barron County Sheriff’s Office Friday. A dispatcher tried calling a landline at the home but it had been disconnected, according to the log.
Deputies arrived within 4 minutes of the end of the 911 call and found the front door kicked in and the bodies of the parents. There was no sign of Jayme, who is not considered a suspect based on evidence found in the house.
Deputies found no suspects, weapons or suspicious vehicles at the home, which is located on the outskirts of Barron. Fitzgerald has said that investigators do not know whether the killings were a random act or whether the Closs family or their home was targeted.
On Thursday, 100 volunteers from Barron and the surrounding area answered Fitzgerald’s call to help search a stretch of Hwy. 8 near the Closs home in hopes of finding evidence that might lead to a break in the case. The search teams, which included state and law enforcement officials, scoured the ditches along a 14-mile stretch of highway but found no clues, according to Fitzgerald.
Nevertheless, he again urged the public on Friday to call in tips.
Jayme is described as white, 5 feet tall, 100 pounds, with green eyes and blond or strawberry blond hair. Anyone with information that could lead to her being found is urged to call the Barron County Sheriff’s Office at 715-537-3106 or 911.