GORDON, Wis. – When Jeanne Nutter saw a young girl walking toward her yelling for help Thursday afternoon, she said instincts from her career as a social worker kicked in.
“I went to her and she just sort of grabbed onto me and she told me who she was. I’ve been a social worker my whole life. I was in child protection, so I believe my CPS personality just turned on,” Nutter told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.
Jayme Closs was dirty and skinny with matted hair. Her shoes were too big. “My goal was to get her someplace safe, to call 911,” Nutter added.
Nutter sought help from neighbors in the Eau Claire Acres neighborhood because she wasn’t sure who else was with Jayme or where they went.
“I didn’t know where the perpetrator of this was and she wasn’t sure either, so I just went to a couple places trying to find people,” she said.
She rushed Jayme to a nearby home and banged on the door. Kristin Kasinskas opened it.
“This is Jayme Closs! Call 911 right now!” Nutter said.
Jayme told Kasinskas she had been held in a nearby home by the man who had killed her parents and kidnapped her.
She didn’t have a sense of how long she had been kept in the home in the Town of Gordon, which is about an hour’s drive from her family’s home in Barron, where her parents were fatally shot Oct. 15.
Jayme didn’t want anything to eat or drink, but she was cold and wrapped herself in the blanket Kasinskas offered.
Overall, she was calm and able to talk, Kasinskas said.
Nutter said Closs appeared to be physically fine, but in shock.
“She’s a traumatized child. I believe she was just maybe in shock,” she said.
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Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald announced that Jayme was located Thursday afternoon. A suspect was taken into custody shortly after, Fitzgerald said.
When asked how she feels about what happened now that she’s had some time to process it, Nutter choked up a bit.
“I’m just so glad that she’s safe,” the retired social worker said.
Nutter still works as an advisor to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s social work program. She and her husband live south of Eau Claire and have a cabin outside of Gordon. They arrived at their cabin Thursday to get away for a few days.
She said she’s thankful her dog, Henry – who she described as a goofy golden retriever – wanted to go for a walk.
“I’m just happy that she’s safe. I feel like it’s sort of a miracle that she’s still alive. I’m glad my dog wanted to go for a walk and we did and there she was,” she said. “My goal was to get her to a safe place and I did. The police were amazing.”