Jayme Closs, 13, endured almost three months of captivity before she escaped.
Jayme Closs was wearing a pair of too-big men’s shoes on the wrong feet when she was found.
The shoes belonged to her kidnapper, Jake Patterson, a 21-year-old man who had plotted her abduction for days before he took his father’s shotgun, stormed into her house and killed her parents. For three months Patterson kept Closs in a cabin an hour away from her hometown in Wisconsin, forcing her to hide under his bed hemmed in by bags weighed down by barbells, whenever he had guests over or left the house. Some days Closs went 12 hours without receiving food or water.
But on 10 January Closs forced her way out from her makeshift prison when Patterson wasn’t there, put on a pair of his shoes, and ran to the street.
“I’m Jayme Closs,” she cried to a woman out walking her dog. “I don’t know where I am. Please help. I want to go home.”
The details of Closs’ kidnapping and subsequent escape from Patterson are terrifying. According to police, Patterson plotted Closs’ abduction after seeing her getting onto a school bus while on his way to work. Investigators state that Patterson told them that he had twice gone to the Closs family home with the intention of kidnapping Closs. When he was apprehended by police after Closs’ escape, Patterson told them: “I did it.”
Now, authorities are debating what to do with the $50,000 (£38,000) reward for information about Closs and her safe return, funded in halves by the FBI and by Jennie-O Turkey, the company where her parents James and Denise worked.
The money was first offered to Peter and Kristin Kasinskis, a couple who called 911 after the dog walker brought Closs to their house, but they turned it down. “She got herself out,” Kasinskas explained to Associated Press. Now, social media is calling for Closs to receive the reward money herself.
“The money belongs to her,” one person shared on Twitter. Another added: “She saved herself and lost her parents… Give it to her.” “I mean, how are they even remotely flummoxed by this choice,” someone else asked.
According to the Baron County Sheriff Department no decision about the reward money has been made.
But Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald maintained that Closs is the “hero” in this story. “Jayme is a hero in this case, no question about it,” he said. “She’s the one that helped us break the case.”
Sounds to us like she should be the one who gets the reward, too.
Images: Unsplash, Getty