CAMERON, Wis. — After 88 days, people of Barron County, Wisconsin, who had been praying that Jayme Closs would be found honored her safe return.
Sunday night, family, friends and neighbors gathered at St. Peter Catholic Church in Cameron for a prayer service to honor 13-year-old Jayme, who freed herself from the northern Wisconsin home of Jake Thomas Patterson on Jan. 10 after nearly three months in captivity. Patterson is charged with shooting and killing Jayme’s parents, James and Denise Closs, on Oct. 15, abducting her and holding her in his Town of Gordon home.
St. Peter carries great significance for the Closs family. Denise was a member of the parish before she died, according to her obituary, and it’s the same church where loved ones gathered in October to say goodbye to the couple.
But the focus of Sunday’s service was not on the allegations against Patterson. Congregants instead thanked Jayme, God and everyone else who played a role in the three-month journey to find the missing teen.
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“You have just experienced one of the great miracles of our time,” said Father John Gerritts, a priest at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Hudson, Wisconsin.
Those in attendance thanked law enforcement for their work on the investigation and heard from Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, who in turn expressed his gratitude for the community’s support. They showed their appreciation for friends. They prayed for James and Denise, keeping their memory alive.
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“They gave Jayme the gifts of life, faith and love,” said Lindsey Smith, Jayme’s cousin. “We are sad that they could not welcome Jayme back to their home. This brings us great sadness. But we know their deaths (are) not a sign of their abandoning us.”
Jayme was described as a kind, strong and courageous girl who is loved by everyone around her. Parish director Patty Gerber prayed for her and her life going forward, saying God has plans for her future.
“We had a dark cloud hanging over our community,” said Barron Mayor Ron Fladten. “Then God removed it, and now the sun shines through. Jayme is home.”