A 13-year-old girl reported missing after her parents were fatally shot in their Wisconsin home has been found alive after three months of searching, authorities said Thursday.
The Barron County Sheriff's Department in Wisconsin said Jayme Closs was found by deputies in nearby Douglas County, and a 21-year-old suspect was taken into custody. No details about the girl's condition or the circumstances of her disappearance were immediately available from authorities.
But a couple in Barron described how Closs — looking skinny and dirty — appeared at their front door around 4pm on Thursday after asking a neighbor in the street for help.
The woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, told the Star Tribune she was walking her dog when a young girl "came up to me and said she wanted help." The woman recognized Closs, and the girl quickly identified herself. The woman rushed to a nearby house, home of Peter and Kirstin Kasinskas, telling them: "This is Jayme Closs!" Call 911!"
Closs refused any food or water, but told the couple she didn't know the area or where she was and indicated that she'd been there for a long time. Peter Kasinskas said Closs was quiet and "pretty flat," so they introduced her to their new puppy to make her comfortable.
"I honestly still think I’m dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost," Peter Kasinskas told the Tribune. “It was scary and awesome at the same time. My jaw just went to the floor.”
More answers were expected in a press conference scheduled for Friday morning. In a Facebook post, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald thanked other law enforcement agencies for their assistance in the search for Jayme.
"We want to especially thank the family for their support and patience while this case was ongoing," he wrote. "We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise."
The girl disappeared in October after her parents were shot dead in their rural northwest Wisconsin home. A 911 call had been placed from the house, but no one communicated with dispatchers. When deputies checked the home, they found evidence of gunshots and 56-year-old James Closs and 46-year-old Denise Closs were dead.
Their daughter was not found, and investigators used drones with infrared technology to search the area. Her friends were also interviewed, and her school was searched. One early tip suggested she had been spotted in Miami.
In the aftermath of her disappearance, Fitzgerald said the girl wasn't a suspect in her parents' deaths "as of now."
"We don't know how far she could have gone or if someone took her," he said in October. "We don't know the answer to that. We just know we have a violent crime scene and we're missing a 13-year-old girl."
Ultimately, she was found within about 100 miles from her home.
"Thank you all for your help and prayers!!!!" her cousin Tina Sabin wrote on Facebook. "We got her back!!!!!"