Jayme Closs is 13 years old. She is missing and she’s in extreme danger.
Five days ago, police in Barron County, WI received a 911 call from the Closs residence. The caller didn’t talk to the dispatcher. Within four minutes, police arrived to discover James Closs (56) and his wife Denise Closs (46) murdered in their home.
Barron County Sheriff’s office issued an Amber Alert for Jayme Closs some hours later. Due to the fact that a suspect and a vehicle were not identified, it was a delayed release.
But something happened after the alert went out with this particular photo.
People began to demonize Jayme immediately.
In the first 24 hours, instead of helping to share information, social media decided that they had already decided who the murderer was.
Conspiracy theories even began about the picture itself.
However the truth was far more mundane. The first publicly available picture for the police was Jayme’s Facebook profile picture.
While it’s not the best angle, it’s all that was available at the time. The rest of Jayme’s public photos on her timeline were too old, with Jayme looking more rounder faced and shorter than her now five foot self.
Usually in kidnapping situations, the parents are the first to give photos of their missing child to police. Since that couldn’t happen with this case, police ran with the most recent photo available to them. Later on, other family members gave different photos, much more clear and less strange looking.
But the narrative of her as murderer was already locked in place, especially on Twitter where True Crime fans love to spread “theories,” even at times encouraged by news media personalities.
As most people are probably aware, the first 24-48 hours of a missing persons case is critical. Police rely upon this unspoken and necessary trust with the public that when an amber alert is released that people will be looking for said missing person.
Despite Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald stating repeatedly into the void, “She’s not a suspect,” over and over again, the news sensationalized it and the speculations continued.
Thanks to Twitter users liking and responding to the speculations, many of those hit trending pages, cluttering up the feeds with wild theories.
And thanks to that, a lot of misinformation made its rounds.
Many news outlets latched onto the Miami lead, spreading that misinformation like wild fire. After it was deemed not credible, that Jayme was in fact still missing, it has been over 48 hours before that got cleared up.
Paul Blaume, a reporter for Fox9, tried his best throughout the whole case to continually give factual as well as credible details. He also was one of the few voices humanizing Jayme online.
The case of Jayme Closs is terrifying and heartbreaking. Someone shot through the door, killed her parents, and then took her by gunpoint.
And in addition to that horror, social media failed her. Speculation and sensationalism ruled over facts. Deemed a villain, Jayme wasn’t looked for properly, and the window to find her alive has drastically narrowed.
Over 400 tips were called into the hot line provided by Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, but none of those leads panned out. Now on day 5, it’s over 800 tips, but still no leads. FBI has expanded its search nationwide.
Yesterday, the ground searches finally began.
Over a hundred volunteers searched along Highway 8 for evidence. That means the police have credible suspicion that someone might have thrown evidence along the road, so someone might have fled from the crime scene in that general direction.
Yet, still no leads and speculation only increases with each passing hour. Finding her alive means that the narrative of Jayme Closs must change. Usually, parents are the ones who tell people about their missing children and plead for their safe return.
The plea that should exist for Jayme Closs should go something like this:
Jayme is a sweet, shy thirteen year old girl. She loves to dance every chance she gets. She loves to spend time with friends. She has dreams of being a dancer when she grows up. Her family is grieving tremendously. They’ve lost two very loved people, and the thought of losing Jayme too is too much to bear. So if you have Jayme, let her go. Give her back to her family. Drop her off at a hospital, fire station, or somewhere else safe where she can be found. Please don’t harm her. She’s just a child.
Instead of vitriol and villianizing, people should be sharing her image along with the tipline 1-855-744-3879. Talk about her as of she’s the child endangered as the police do.
Speculation isn’t going to save Jayme’s life. Actually, it might have devastated her chances of being found. Going into day five with no leads paints a grim picture for investigators.
I’ve started a rather long Twitter thread that I’ve added to as updates occur. I’m not giving up on Jayme, because I feel like so many other people have. The local county and police haven’t, but a rather large part of the nation’s population has, and that’s heartbreaking to me.
Jayme Closs is a victim, not a suspect. Let’s try to find her before it’s too late.
It’s day 13, and a few holes are filled into the story.
Jayme’s family – her aunt Jennifer and another relative – came out to say they’ll “never stop looking” for her. With them was the Closs tiny family dog left behind at the crime scene.
Which now makes sense as to why law enforcement believe that Jayme should still be alive. Someone shot open the door, killed the parents, but not the dog. Whoever took Jayme has a semblance of a conscience.
The Barron County Sheriff’s Office and the Milwaukee FBI both seem to think that whoever broke completely intended to take Jayme with them.
The Sheriff Fitzgerald also released vehicles of interest to the case.
Over 2,000 volunteers helped to comb the area around the Closs house, and over 2,000 tips have been called in and 1,200 tips have been closed.
Rumors and speculations still abound on the Internet. A lot of people still live the secret boyfriend theory, even though the FBI have combed through her social media by this point. Both the Sheriff and the FBI have stated that if there was a person of interest or a suspect that information would be released.
As it stands, nothing.
At this point, the investigators will shift through forensics over and over again to see what they’ve missed. Tips will get called in and throughly vetted. With any luck, someone like you will see Jayme and call 911.
Any information of direct knowledge about Jayme’s location is worth $50,000.
Do you know someone acting suspicious?
Odds are Jayme was taken by someone she knows. They’re probably someone in the community, probably someone who is a loner, and has a history of petty theft or burglary. Oddly enough, this person probably has no history of sexual misconduct or murder.
Here is where people would say that’s speculation, but it’s actually based off FBI behavioral analysis of residential kidnappings.
Now, someone who kills and kidnaps while also having a shred of empathy (i.e. not killing Jayme or the dog) won’t be unaffected by those actions. They will be stressed, act out, react to the news either explosively or not at all. Think extreme reactions completely out of character for this person.
The FBI behavioral analysis paints the usual suspects as male, white, 30’s – 40’s, with no family or really close friends. They may have had sexual deviant tendencies but never acted on them before.
A female residential kidnapper usually kidnaps children as surrogates for the children they lack or have lost. With Jayme doing dance, it’s possible that someone was able to get close by being a female that the troupe and kids could trust. That being said, female residential kidnappers tend to take babies, not 13 year olds.
Either way, if you know someone in the Barron County area who isn’t acting like themselves, is a bit too interested in the Jayme Closs investigation, knew her and her family, and something doesn’t seem right, call it in.
Jayme Closs is in danger and we need to find her.