Jayme Closs was found in alive in a town called Gordon, in Douglas County, Wisconsin, which is about 70 miles north of Barron. A suspect was taken into custody yesterday. Few details have been released, but she arrived a the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas after approaching one of their neighbors asking for help. She was said to have unkempt hair and was wearing oversized shoes. Within 10 minutes of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department arriving, they has a suspect in custody.
Out of An 80’s Thriller
The late night/early morning hours of October 15, 2018, in Barron County, Wisconsin seemed like something out of a gritty Hollywood thriller. That early Monday morning The Barron County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a cell phone with 715 area code, according to the dispatch log it was 12:56 a.m., and on the call the dispatcher could “hear lot of yelling”, so the dispatcher called number back and was “unable to leave a voicemail”. The phone number was registered to Denise Closs, who lived at 1268 U.S Highway 8, an isolated stretch of road just outside the city of Barron.
Within four minutes deputies arrived at the home to what they thought might have been a domestic disturbance— only to discover a grisly scene. While reports have slightly varied over time both in print and press conferences, the front door was kicked in and the invader or invaders; had “shot their way inside” resulting in the murder of two adults— later identified as James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46. No one else was there. No weapon. No witnesses. The smoke hadn’t even cleared the house, the deputies had missed the assailant(s) by minutes.
Soon after, authorities discovered that the couple’s daughter, thirteen year-old Jayme Closs had been home that evening and was missing from the residence.
In only a matter of hours, a horrific crime that shocked a small community became a nationwide manhunt for the person(s) who killed the parents of Jayme Closs and abducted her. An Amber Alert was issued the afternoon of Monday, Oct. 15. The nation was captivated by Jayme Closs, a beautiful teenager that was abducted in a manner that seemed to come out of a script. It was the beginning of a bizarre case that would take bizarre twists. The Barron County Sheriff’s Office however, didn’t hesitate to bring in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigations. They weren’t going to risk losing Jayme Closs over department pride, an often devastating move that smaller agencies with inadequate experience, specialized training and/or resources make.
It just seemed unreal.
The next day, October 16th, news began to emerge investigators believed that a 2004-2010 Black Acura MDX or a 2004-2010 Black Ford Edge may have been involved. Over a thousand miles away, Miami Police claim they were investigating a possible sighting of Jayme. The lead turned out not to be credible. Over the next few weeks, a community came together with thousands of volunteers from all over searching for the thirteen year-old. At first it seemed promising, however, as time went on, hope seemed to dim. Despite having over 2100 tips, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald was desperate, those tips, mostly folks with the best intentions, just didn’t pan out. Each day. less and less were coming in. Somebody had to know “something”. On Wednesday October 24th, FBI Special Agent in Charge Justin Tolomeo announced that the FBI was offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to Jayme Closs. It briefly sparked a surge in tips.
Saturday, October 27, there was renewed hope. Most thought it might be the break investigators needed, Kyle Jaenke, 32, of Cameron, Wisconsin, had broke into the Closs residence, still an active crime scene. According to the complaint filed by the DCI, Jaeke with his glasses, a flashlight, black gloves and a mask with “a skull on the front” entered the home to “steal clothing belonging to Jayme that included a pink extra-small tank top, orange-and-green girl’s underwear, a red-and-white girl’s tank top and an orange-and-white girl’s dress. It was also learned that Jaeke worked with both James and Denise Closs at the Jennie-O Turkey Store in Barron. While disturbing, investigators would ultimately clear Kyle Jaeke of any involvement in the murders of James and Denise and abduction of Jayme Closs.
On Halloween Day, the DCI, FBI and Barron County Sheriff’s Office cut the investigation force in half to 100 down from the 200 federal & state agents and county deputies working the case full-time. It was announced that their investigation would now primarily focus technology, looking through phone records, internet use, text messaging, text messaging apps and other forms of communication.
Detour and Derailed
On November 5th, Hania Aguilar, 13, was abducted from right in front of her home in Lumberton, North Carolina as she started the family vehicle. This not only sparked interest in the Jayme Closs abduction, but resulted in some to speculate that there may be a “serial teen/tween abductor” roaming the United States and collecting young teens and selling them for human trafficking. Ultimately, Hania Aguilar’s abduction would prove to be unrelated. Sadly, her body was found on November 28th not far off Wire Grass Road, about three miles from where the family’s stolen SUV was located three days after her abduction.
On December 8, 2018. Michael McLellan 34, was arrested for her murder.
As the investigation scaled back, rumors began to emerge, even from what many considered credible sources or insiders. The Barron County Sheriff’s Office was desperate, they began to turn back to old & unproductive habits and myth using pseudo-science and clairvoyance and misconceptions through criminal “profiling”. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald released a statement urging the public to report any and all behavioral changes of friends and family to his office. The DCI and FBI backed away from the Barron County Sheriff’s approach, instead focusing on social media and keeping it in the public eye.
With Jayme Closs found, it marks the end to one of the most bizarre cases of abduction in the last few years and folks in Wisconsin can rest a little easier knowing a criminal with this type of determination and motivation is off the streets.
I’ll be interested to learn the details of this case and how this came to be. Given how strange and horrific this case began, something tells me there is more to this story beyond our imaginations.