Barron County Sheriff’s Department/AP
Updated at 11:46 a.m. ET
Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old girl who had been missing since her parents were found fatally shot in October, has been found alive. And officials say she immediately helped law enforcement arrest her alleged captor.
Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, was taken into custody just minutes after Jayme was found at 4:43 p.m. local time Thursday.
“In cases like this we often need a big break,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Justin Tolomeo said a news conference Friday morning in Wisconsin’s Barron County. “And it was Jayme herself who gave us that break.”
Barron County Sheriff’s Department/AP
On Thursday afternoon, a girl who looked skinny and dirty and who was wearing shoes too big for her approached a woman out walking her dog and asked for help, the woman told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The woman, who asked the newspaper not to use her name, said she was nearly certain it was Jayme, having seen her photo on the news and posters around Wisconsin. The girl confirmed she was indeed Jayme Closs.
The woman says she took Jayme to the nearby home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas and told them to call 911. The girl said she’d been abducted and had escaped from a house where she had been left alone, Peter Kasinskas told Wisconsin Public Radio.
Jayme Closs has been located
On Thursday evening the Barron County Sheriff’s Department was notified by the Douglas CO WI Sheriff’s Department that they had located Jayme Closs alive.
Shortly after this a… https://t.co/B5FrOVYLB8
— Chris Fitzgerald (@bcsheriff) January 11, 2019
“I honestly still think I’m dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost,” Kasinskas told the Star-Tribune. “It was scary and awesome at the same time. My jaw just went to the floor.”
Deputies arrived at the scene and Jayme described her captor’s vehicle. A short time later, a patrol sergeant found a vehicle matching that description, and pulled the vehicle over and took the suspect into custody.
“Jayme was taken against her will and escaped from a residence at which she was being held, and found help,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. “I can tell you that the subject planned his actions and took many proactive steps to hide his identity from law enforcement and the general public.”
Patterson, the suspect, is being held in the Barron County jail on suspicion of kidnapping and homicide in the murder of Jayme’s parents. Fitzgerald said that investigation remains “very fluid and active” and authorities are conducting numerous interviews.
Jayme went missing on Oct. 15, when authorities found her parents shot to death at the family’s home near Barron, a town about 75 miles northeast of Minneapolis. Authorities said they believed Jayme was not a runaway and was in danger.
An initial ground search yielded no clues, but a second ground search by more than 2,000 people resulted in several items of interest to investigators, The Associated Press reports. In December, hundreds of people in Barron gathered in a tree-lighting ceremony to honor Jayme.
She was found alive in the northwest Wisconsin town of Gordon, about 60 miles from where she had gone missing. Jayme spent Thursday night in an area hospital for observation, the Douglas County sheriff said.
Her grandfather, Robert Naiberg, told the AP that his daughter told him that Jayme had been held by “a guy in the woods” but had managed to flee.
“I’m going to hug her. Squeeze her,” Naiberg told the Star-Tribune. “I’ve been in the dumpster for three months.”
“We are just happy everyone kept praying and didn’t give up hope, like we didn’t,” Jennifer Smith, her aunt and godmother, told ABC News on Thursday evening. “A lot of happy tears in this house tonight.”