Barron County (WQOW) – The Barron community is trying to hold onto the light during a dark time. On Wednesday night, a special tree was lit for Jayme Closs as those from Barron hold onto the hope that she’ll come home safe.
“This is what we are running on is hope,” said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald.
A holiday tradition turned into a beacon of hope that 13-year-old Jayme Closs is out there and will soon return home. Nearly two months ago, Jim and Denise Closs were shot and killed in their home. Their daughter Jayme was gone without a trace.
The Tree of Hope for Jayme Closs radiates in blue and green lights. The tree is decorated with messages from her classmates that read ‘Hope for Jayme’ and ‘We miss you’.
The idea of the tree was planted into the mind of Jim Snee, president and CEO of Hormel Foods, the parent company to Jennie-O where Jayme’s parent used to work. Snee came up with the idea after reading an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The headline read: “A month after Jayme Closs vanished, the feeling in her hometown is ‘very dark.’”
“I didn’t think that was fair,” said Snee. “And I didn’t think it was an accurate representation, because here is a community with an incredible heart, an incredible soul and an unbreakable spirit. That is anything but dark.”
So the community wanted to provide the light. Lanterns were released. There were two blue ones for James and Denise Closs and a green one for Jayme.
Barron native Chris Kroeze even left a message of hope to the crowd followed by the replaying of a song he dedicated to Jayme on ‘The Voice’, called ‘Let it Be’. The music, the lights and the hope are what fuel law enforcement working the case.
“Tonight, I haven’t smiled this much in a long time. So it’s pretty awesome,” said Sheriff Fitzgerald. “Without [the community], we can’t do it. We have one goal left. We will bring Jayme home. And we will bring peace to this community.”
At the event, Sheriff Fitzgerald gave an update on the investigation.
Despite numerous interviews and searches, investigators are still searching for a strong lead. Fitzgerald said the number of tips has dropped to about 20 a day, and the number of investigators on the case is also down. He said dozens of sighting have been reported, but none have been verified. Still, Fitzgerald said the case remains the department’s number one priority.
“Now we have a video feed that the DCI has set up for us that people can ship their video directly to us,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s all set up. It’s viewed immediately. The technology that we are using to try and solve this case, is second to none in the nation right now.”
Fitzgerald continues to ask anyone who may have a tip to contact his office at 1-855-744-3879.