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A Minnesota-based company that offered a reward for the whereabouts of Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old who was abducted in October, announced that it will give her the money after she freed herself.
“Our hope is that a trust fund can be used for Jayme’s needs today and in the future,” Jennie-O Turkey Store president Steve Lykken said in a statement released Wednesday.
“Her bravery and strength have truly inspired our team members around the world,” said Jim Snee, president and CEO of parent company Hormel Foods.
Jayme emerged thin and dirty, some 60 miles north of her home in Barron County, northwestern Wisconsin. Her parents, James and Denise Closs, were shot dead before Jayme was dragged out of the house by her alleged abductor, Jake Patterson.
As NPR’s Daniella Cheslow reported:
“For more than two months, Jayme told police, she lived in hiding in her assailant’s house, forced to lie under his bed and go as long as 12 hours without food, drink or a bathroom.”
Patterson even had a Christmas party while the teenager was held captive, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He reportedly threatened to kill her if she made a noise or tried to flee, and played music in the room so that other people in the house wouldn’t hear any sounds.
But one day when Patterson wasn’t home, Jayme was able to crawl out from the space under the bed where he was said to have trapped her behind weighted bins.
Not only did she rescue herself, she also helped law enforcement track Patterson down minutes after her escape.
Her abduction triggered an investigation with the FBI, which offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to her location. Jennie-O Turkey Store, where Jayme’s parents had worked, offered its own $25,000.
A couple who helped the teen after she fled said they didn’t want any award money. Peter Kasinskas told the Associated Press that if anyone deserved the money, it should be Jayme because “she got herself out.”
The FBI said it is assessing what it will do with its $25,000 reward but won’t disclose those next steps.
“At the conclusion of investigations in which rewards are offered, the FBI evaluates the information provided along with the unique circumstances of the case and its resolution, and determines whether it is appropriate to award reward money based upon the established criteria for the reward,” Milwaukee FBI spokesman Leonard Peace told NPR.
“Our general practice is to refrain from disclosing details on the final decisions in these matters due to privacy considerations,” Peace said.
As Jayme’s kidnapping and the killing of her parents gathered nationwide attention, her Wisconsin community offered help. More than 2,000 people volunteered their time, and police had to turn some locals away, Rich Kremer of Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
The local school district held a rally and neighbors lit their porches with blue and green lights to represent Jayme’s favorite color and a hope that she would be found alive.
Prosecutors charged Patterson with kidnapping and the killing of Jayme’s parents. He is also charged with armed robbery.
When the police found him in Gordon, Wis., he told them, “I did it,” according to a criminal complaint. He has not yet entered a plea, and is expected to return to court in February.
He told authorities that he vowed to take Jayme after seeing her get on a school bus.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald called Jayme “the hero in this case,” and said he was happy she would receive the company’s reward.