A close friend of Jayme Closs‘ aunt tells PEOPLE she is “ecstatic” the Wisconsin teen was found Thursday after escaping the man who’d abducted her nearly three months ago after both of her parents were found fatally shot.
Michelle Saffert says Jayme will live with her aunt, Jennifer Smith — Jayme’s mother’s sister and legal guardian.
“It’s so exciting,” Saffert says. “I’m so excited. I talked to Jennifer a few times already. It talked to her this morning.”
Saffert tells PEOPLE Jayme’s family is hoping to be reunited with her later today.
“Jennifer is excited — beyond ecstatic,” Saffert says. “We have screamed and cried and screamed and cried some more. This community has just…the endless thing that this community has done, to support this family — vigils of prayer and tree lightings and donated reward money and selling of bracelets and lanterns and some lady paints rocks and paints Jayme’s face on them and leaves them around parks.
“What everybody has done to support them,” she adds. “To know that the money we raised is going to benefit Jayme is so damn exciting.”
The bodies of Jayme’s parents, Denise Closs, 46, and 56-year-old James Closs, were recovered the morning of Oct. 15, 2018, after police received a 911 call from their home.
Nobody spoke during the 911 call, but a disturbance could be heard. When police subsequently arrived at the family home, they found the parents dead but no sign of Jayme. Officials issued an AMBER Alert for the teen, and declared her “missing and endangered.”
Police arrived to find the front door has been kicked in.
On Friday, police announced they’d arrested 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson, of Gordon, and charged him with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping.
The suspect, who is unemployed, was not on the radar of investigators and had no criminal history in Wisconsin, authorities said at a Friday press conference.
At the press conference, Baron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald alleged the suspect planned the crime and that “Jayme was the only target,” and that Patterson had no prior contact with the family. It’s unclear how the suspect knew Jayme, Fitzgerald said.
Saffert is quick to point out that “nothing takes away what happened to her,” but that they money raised prior to her reappearance “can help her in so many ways now…it gives her options to help.”
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When Saffert learned Jayme’s harrowing ordeal was over, she was at a business function, and “started screaming at the top of my lungs.”
According to Saffert, Thursday’s happy ending is “a miracle — it’s amazing. I know the family has good solid support and the strength. They’ve already shown the extreme strength they have to come together as a family.”