Loved ones and friends of 13-year-old Jayme Closs released balloons at a weekend vigil and reaffirmed their pledge to find her alive, marking two months since police believe she was abducted from her Wisconsin home where they found her parents shot to death.
“Jayme, grandpa wants you to know that we will never give up,” Robert Naiberg said during Saturday’s vigil. “I want nothing more than to get my granddaughter back home to me and her family where she belongs.”
Family and friends gathered around a Christmas tree on Saturday at Riverview Middle School in Barron, Wisconsin, where Jayme is a student. The 16-foot “tree of hope” was dedicated to Jayme and decorated with green lights and ribbons for all abducted children and blue ones for Jayme’s favorite color.
“I wish every day that whoever has you would just let you go or drop you off somewhere safe so I could pick you up,” Naiberg, 72, told the crowd, reading from a prepared statement.
The group released 200 green and blue balloons into a clear and chilly Wisconsin sky to let the community know the search for Jayme will not end.
“I need my sweet granddaughter Jayme back,” Naiberg said.
Jayme disappeared on Oct. 15, when an emergency dispatch center received a 911 hang-up call from inside the Closs family home and could hear screaming in the background. When a dispatcher called the number back, it went to the cellphone voicemail of Jayme’s mother, Denise Closs, police said.
Police responded to the home about 4 minutes after that 911 call ended, but by the time they got there, Jayme was gone.
The bodies of Denise Closs, 46, and Jayme’s father, James Closs, 56, were found in the house. Both had been shot to death, police said.
Investigators suspect that Jayme was abducted by whoever killed her parents. They have yet to say if they suspect the Closs family was targeted or victims of a random attack.
Authorities searching for Jayme say that while they have received numerous tips about the girl, none of them have yet to pan out. Police and thousands of volunteers have combed the area around Jayme’s home.
The Barron County sheriff’s department has also sent an urgent request to deer hunters, who will be active in the area this time of year, to be on the lookout for clues.
A $50,000 reward has been offered for any information leading to the discovery of Jayme. Half the reward was put up by Jennie-O Turkey Store, a turkey hatchery and processing plant in Barron where Jayme’s parents worked.
“What we are running on right now is hope,” Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told those gathered at the tree lighting dedicated to Jayme on Wednesday night.
Fitzgerald said sheriff’s investigators, FBI and the Wisconsin Department of Justice are investigating every lead in the case although authorities concede that the number of new leads coming in has dwindled considerably.
“It’s the Christmas season,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s time to believe and it’s time to bring hope so we can bring a 13-year-old girl home.”
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