Two years after Jayme Closs escaped following 88 days of captivity in a northwest Wisconsin cabin, her family gives an upbeat report on her progress and what's keeping her busy.
"We are very thankful for everything that happened on this day two years ago," Jayme's aunt and legal guardian, Jennifer Naiberg Smith, said in a Facebook posting over the weekend.
Now 15, "Jayme is doing good," Smith said. "We take life day by day. 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."
It was Jan. 10, 2019, when 13-year-old Jayme fled from Jake Patterson, who at age 25 killed the teen's parents, James and Denise Closs, in their home in Barron, Wis., nearly three months earlier. Patterson pleaded guilty to homicide and kidnapping and was sentenced in December 2019 to life in prison.
Patterson had made a plan to kidnap Jayme after he spotted her boarding a school bus in October 2018. About 1 a.m. on Oct. 15, he shot the Closses, dragged Jayme to his car, put her in the trunk and headed north to the cabin where he lived near Gordon, Wis.
Nearly three months later, Jayme seized the opportunity to escape when Patterson left the cabin during the day. She approached a woman walking her dog, who then got her to safety. Soon after, police found Patterson.
The aunt's message expressed special gratitude for three people "for all being in the right place at the right time and keeping Jayme safe." They are Jeanne Nutter, who first saw Jayme after her escape; and Kristin and Peter Kasinskas, who lived at the home where Nutter brought Jayme that afternoon.
Smith's posting also offered this advice to those reading the update: "We always want to say and remind others [to] 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."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482