Tribune Editorial: Celebrating Jayme Closs' rescue, recovery now begins
There were "tears of joy" Friday celebrating the safe return of Jayme Closs of Barron, Wisconsin.
Jayme and her parents, James and Denise Closs, are members of the Jennie-O Turkey Store community, which is headquartered here in Willmar.
Word spread quickly through the Barron community, across the Midwest and nationally Thursday evening that Jayme had been found alive in a northwestern Wisconsin community and was in the security of law enforcement.
All the prayers had been answered Thursday night as the tree in the Jennie-O's corporate office glowed in blue and green lights. The tree will remain lit in the short term as an "honor" to Jayme, Jennie-O President Steve Lykken said Friday.
There is sadness as we remember it has been 88 days since James and Denise Closs were savagely murdered in their rural Barron home and their 13-year-old daughter disappeared. This daughter, her family and her community have lost James and Denise, her parents, and were longtime Jennie-O employees.
Her fortitude showed "the will of a kid to survive," said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Friday.
And, most importantly, Jayme Closs was able to provide the significant break law enforcement needed so desperately to break this case wide open and bring her safely home.
The brave teenager had somehow escaped her captured surroundings in a rural cabin near Gordon. Unaware of where she was, she fled the cabin in oversized shoes before seeking help from a woman walking her dog along a rural Douglas County road in northwest Wisconsin.
The road to recovery has only just begun for Jayme, her family and the Barron schools and community. Their lives will never return to the normal they once knew before this fatal encounter with this suspect in custody. Their small town world has forever been changed.
Law enforcement, state and federal officials have no doubt implemented a plan to help Jayme, her family and their respective communities begin a recovery process. It will take patience, love and care.
Elizabeth Smart, abducted as a 14-year-old from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, celebrated Friday via Instagram on this "happy occasion" for Jayme. Smart called for Closs' family to be given "space and privacy on their road to finding a new sense of normal and moving forward."
For other families and parents, it is important to remember that such cases, as the Closs, Smart or\Wetterling cases, remain extremely rare.
Patty Wetterling also reminded parents Thursday evening to "stay in touch with your children. Love your children, talk to your children."