'The strength that this little girl has': Jayme Closs' family talks of their love, pride

 
By Lindsey Bever
The Washington Post
Updated 1/14/2019 10:00 AM
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  • Jayme Closs, right, with her aunt, Jennifer Smith Friday in Barron, Wisconsin.

    Jayme Closs, right, with her aunt, Jennifer Smith Friday in Barron, Wisconsin. Associated Press

Days after a Wisconsin girl escaped from a man accused of killing her parents and holding her captive for months, relatives say 13-year-old Jayme Closs is back where she belongs, in the loving embrace of her family.

"The first step is surrounding her with love, making sure she's safe -- she feels safe. She's doing pretty well. I spent the afternoon there yesterday. We had her smiling, laughing. Going through things in her room," one of her aunts, Sue Allard, said Monday on "CBS This Morning."

The rest, she said, will come "in due time."

"We have to take little steps," she said about her niece. "Jayme, when she's ready to talk, she will."

For nearly three months, local, state and federal authorities had been looking for Jayme -- an agonizing search that drew national attention. The teen had disappeared Oct. 15 from her home in Barron, Wis., where her parents, 56-year-old James Closs and 46-year-old Denise Closs, had been discovered dead from gunshot wounds, and many people feared the worst for the couple's 13-year-old daughter.

Following Jayme's escape Thursday, authorities arrested Jake Thomas Patterson of Gordon, Wis., on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting deaths of Jayme's parents and one count of kidnapping the 13-year-old girl.

Patterson, 21, is set to appear in court Monday afternoon in Barron County Circuit Court, where he is expected to be formally charged in the crimes. It was not immediately clear Monday morning whether he has an attorney in the case.

Her family members told "CBS This Morning" they could not be more proud of Jayme.

"The thing I wanted to express to her immediately, and we all do, is the pride we have in her for doing this. For getting out. For making it. For the power that she has," another one of Jayme's aunts, Lynn Closs, said on the morning show. "You know, I mean, that she took the power away from this man. That she did this. I mean it's just incredible. I mean the strength that this little girl has, and the pride that we have in her for it, I mean that's instantly what I thought."

Jayme's relatives admitted that they were curious about what happened to the girl -- and how she survived -- but said it's not about them.

It's about the 13-year-old girl.

"If she wants to be happy, let her be happy. If she wants to be sad, let her be sad. If she wants to be silly, let her be silly," Closs said on "CBS This Morning." "We've got to let her call the shots right now."

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