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Barron Co. Sheriff: “Jayme taught us courage, resilience and hope”

Barron Country (WQOW) – An emotional year of investigations and hope culminated on Monday in Barron County as Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald and the other key stakeholders shared their experiences of the past year. There was one common theme throughout – the strength of Barron County teen Jayme Closs.

During a press conference on Monday, Sheriff Fitzgerald called Jayme Closs the real hero.

“Jayme taught us courage, resilience and hope,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said if he learned one thing in the past year it is that you never give up hope.

He presented awards to 10 people in the law enforcement community who had a part in the search and investigation. He said an 11th award will be kept at the Barron County Justice Center to honor the hundreds of officers, detectives, deputies and others who helped during the search for Closs and helped her following her escape.

Fitzgerald said this was the longest-running AMBER Alert in Wisconsin history. He said his department combed through 32,000 reports during the investigation.

The Closs family attorney Chris Gramstrup said Jayme spent her summer hiking in state parks and spending time with family. Gramstrup said Closs has attended a lot of weddings, birthdays and even had a big birthday celebration of her own.

Gramstrup said James and Denise, who were both murdered on October 15, had some key traits that Jayme has carried with her in the past year. Gramstrup said James was a strong athlete and Denise had a huge heart with a huge amount of love.

“It’s her strength and her heart that helped her get through this,” Gramstrup said.

“I really want to thank everyone for the kindness and concern people have shown me. I feel stronger every day,” Closs said in a written statement.

Fitzgerald came back to the podium and re-echoed his purpose for the press conference, “Let’s bring some more kids home.”


Barron County, WI (WXOW) – Tuesday marks one year since the crime that changed a Western Wisconsin community forever. On October 15, 2018 a man killed two people in Barron and kidnapped their daughter, Jayme Closs, holding her captive for 88 days before she managed to escape.

Ahead of the somber anniversary, Barron County authorities are choosing to look to the good. Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald spoke Monday morning honoring the team that worked to bring Jayme home.

The news conference also featured Robert Lowery, Jr. from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children highlighting those working to find other missing children.


READ MORE: The Jayme Closs case


Dustin Luecke

Dustin Luecke anchors News 19 Daybreak weekday mornings.

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