The Wisconsin couple who took Jayme Closs into their Gordon home on Thursday moments after she was found on the street are speaking out about their encounter with the 13-year-old girl who went missing in October after her parents were killed.
Kristin and Peter Kasinskas opened their front door around 4 p.m. to the sound of frantic knocking from a female neighbor. “This is Jayme Closs!” the woman said, the pair recalled to the Star Tribune. “Call 911!”
Jayme had been missing for 87 days after vanishing on October 15 — the same night her parents were found dead in their home in Barron, Wisconsin, nearly 70 miles south of Gordon. She had been declared “missing and endangered,” an AMBER Alert was issued for her and thousands of people joining investigators in their search for her.
Now she was standing at the Kasinskas’ doorstep. “It was like I was seeing a ghost,” Peter told the Star Tribune. “I honestly still think I’m dreaming right now. … It was scary and awesome at the same time. My jaw just went to the floor.”
The neighbor who initially found Jayme was walking her dog when the teenager approached her and asked for help, the Star Tribune reported. She told the outlet she did not want her name to be used as she was “exhausted and unnerved by the dramatic events of the day,” but that she knew immediately who Jayme was and asked the girl her name. When she said “Jayme,” the woman immediately rushed her to the closest home, which happened to be the Kasinskas’.
Speaking to Today over the phone on Friday, Kristin said she and her husband also knew it was Jayme “immediately” when their neighbor knocked on their door because the girl’s picture hanging had been “everywhere” in the area, including on billboards.
The Kasinskases offered Jayme a beverage and something to eat, though the girl refused. “She was comfortable, she just was cold, so we did give her a blanket,” Kristin said. “I guess I would describe her of looking kind of unkept.”
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Sitting in their living room, Jayme played with the Kasinskas’ new puppy, they told the Star Tribune. “She seemed kind of in shock and kind of timid, but she did talk to us a little bit,” Kristin added to Today. “It wasn’t like she was scared of us. She wasn’t crying or upset. She was just very calm.”
Kristin, a school teacher, told Today she and Peter asked Jayme about her abductor. “She didn’t give us a ton of detail,” Kristin recalled. “I asked her if she knew where Gordon, Wisconsin, was [and] she did not. She did state who she believed had her and she did give us a bit of information about the person’s car.” Kasinskas knew the name of the alleged abductor. “I recognized the name when I was told it, but [it is] not somebody I knew well by any means.”
Did she say how she was able escape? “Not really,” Kristin said on Today. “She kind of talked about being locked up or hidden when this person had to leave, but she did not go into any detail about how she got away.”
Suspected Kidnapper in Custody
Barron County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement on Thursday that Jayme’s suspected kidnapper had been taken into custody roughly 10 minutes after Jayme was found.
“We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise,” the statement said.
Barron County Sheriff’s Office plans on holding a press briefing Friday morning.
Jayme’s aunt Sue has spoken out about the news, telling WCCO-TV that her niece is in the hospital. Following her release, Jayme will get the chance to reunite with her family.
“There was rumors earlier today, and I prayed and prayed and they come to not be true,” Sue told the outlet. “And I just shut myself totally down. I thought today was going to be the day, and then I find out two hours later she’s found and I just cannot believe this.”
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has also spoken out. “Jayme is an example of why we never lose hope and never stop search,” NCMEC tweeted.
The Day She Went Missing
Barron County authorities have said Jayme was home when her parents James, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, were killed on Oct. 15. Just before 1 a.m., authorities received a 911 call in which nobody spoke to the dispatcher but “a lot of yelling” could be heard,” according to a dispatch log released by the Barron County Sheriff’s Department and obtained by CNN.
The call came from Denise’s phone, according to the dispatch logs. When police arrived at the family home, they found the bodies of Denise and James — but no sign of Jayme, prompting an AMBER Alert.
The dispatch logs reveal that a responding officer found “the door [to the Closs home had] been kicked in.” Previously, Jayme’s relatives told CBS News the front door to the home was shot in.
Barron Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald previously said at a news conference that Jayme is not a suspect.