Kidnapping Survivor Elizabeth Smart on Jayme Closs Abduction: 'This Family Has Gone Through Hell'

Jayme Closs and her family must now "create a new normal," says Elizabeth Smart

Kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart was struck by the eerie similarities her horrifying 2002 abduction shares with Jayme Closs‘ when she learned details of the 13-year-old Wisconsin teen’s terrifying ordeal.

Bound and forced into a trunk after both of her parents were fatally shot, Jayme was ripped from her Barron, Wisconsin, home in the middle of the night on Oct. 15 after her abductor allegedly spotted her boarding her school bus one fateful morning, say authorities.

“It’s very similar to my case,” Smart, 31, tells PEOPLE, about learning Jayme had never seen or met her abductor before that horrific night. “My captor saw me out shopping with my mom.”

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Two Dead-Child Missing
Jerry Holt/Star Tribune/ AP

Smart was just one year older than Jayme when she was taken from the bedroom of her Salt Lake City, Utah, home in 2002 and held captive for nine months by Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee.

Like Jayme, whose alleged abductor, Jake Patterson, 21, had never met her, Smart’s captor “didn’t know me, didn’t know my parents. Didn’t know anything,” she says.

“He decided in that moment that I was the one he was going to kidnap. So there are a lot of similarities to my case.”


On the night that Jayme was abducted, her parents, Denise, 46, and James Closs, 56, were found shot to death in their home.

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Declared “missing and endangered,” an AMBER Alert was issued for Jayme as thousands joined investigators in their search for her.

Smart was elated when she learned that the courageous 13-year-old had escaped Thursday from a remote cabin in Gordon, about 70 miles north of her hometown, where she had allegedly been held for 88 days.

The driveway to the cabin in Gordon, Wisconsin, where Jayme Closs was allegedly held for 88 days. Elaine Aradillas

Jayme was rescued when she fled the cabin, racing out of the woods and asking Jeanne Nutter, who happened to be out walking her dog, for help.

Now a married mother of three, Smart, who is a New York Times bestselling author and activist, has gone on to live a full life and believes that Jayme can do the same.

“For Jayme right now, I know it’s so easy to feel like this has completely destroyed her life,” she says. “She can still have a wonderful happy life.”

• For more on Jayme Closs’s horrific abduction and amazing rescue, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Patterson is charged with two counts of first-degree homicide, one count of kidnapping and one count of armed burglary, according to a criminal complaint, which was obtained by PEOPLE.

Jeanne Nutter with her dog, Henry. Elaine Aradillas

Patterson appeared in court Monday via video during which a judge ordered him held on $5 million bail.

Calls for comment to Patterson’s public defenders were not returned.

“This family has literally gone through hell,” says Smart. “It wasn’t just that they had a daughter kidnapped but both of her parents were murdered. I can’t imagine a situation any worse.”

During this “sacred” time of grieving and healing, Jayme and her family must now “create a new normal,” she says.

“I hope Jayme and her family know that the whole nation is behind her and her family and if there is anything that we as a nation or as a community can do to help, we are here to help.”

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