BARRON, Wis. (WCCO) – About 2,000 volunteers turned out Tuesday to search fields and forests for Jayme Closs, the teenager who was reported missing last week from her home in western Wisconsin after her parents were found dead inside.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald put the call out to volunteers Monday. By Tuesday morning, he had them – carload by carload – in Barron, which is about 90 miles northeast of the Twin Cities.
“There’s a little girl missing,” said volunteer Jenny Weber, of Menominee, Wisconsin. “If it was mine, I’d want the world looking for her.”
On Oct. 15, at around 1 a.m., an inaudible 911 call sent officers to the Closs home in Barron. When officers arrived, they found the door busted in, and the teen’s parents, 46-year-old Denise and 56-year-old James, dead with gunshot wounds.
Their 13-year-old daughter was nowhere to be found.
The volunteers who turned up Tuesday are hoping to find Jayme. The sheriff believes she is still alive, and may be in danger.
Law enforcement split the volunteers into 14 groups, each tasked with searching an area near the Closs home. The groups each contained about 150 volunteers, and they were instructed to comb assigned areas in a line formation.
The volunteers were given sticks and orange flags. If something unusual was found, they were told to flag it and tell investigators immediately.
The volunteers were told not to touch anything that they might find.
As of noontime, it’s unclear if any clues had been found.
Meanwhile, investigators are also seeking the public’s help in finding vehicles of interest in the case – a red/orange car, believed to be a 2008-2014 Dodge Challenger/Charger, and a black SUV, believed to be a 2006-2010 Ford Edge or 2004-2010 Acura MDX.
Investigators said Monday that these vehicles were seen on surveillance cameras of homes and businesses near the Closs family home around the time of the killings and Jayme’s disappearance.
As search efforts continue, the community in Barron is struggling with fear and grief. On Monday night, a Gathering of Hope was held for Jayme at Barron High School, and hundreds attended.
“This this is our community,” said Bud Moe, one of the attendees. “We care about people in our community. We didn’t know this family at all, but that really doesn’t matter.”
The sheriff’s office is encouraging anyone who sees suspicious activity, or remembers anything being out of the ordinary, to contact them at 715-537-3106.
Anyone who sees Jayme or has information on her whereabouts is asked to call 911. Jayme is described as standing 5-feet tall, weighing 100 pounds, with blonde hair and green eyes.
“We have hope,” said Diane Tremblay, the superintendent of the Barron Area School District at the Monday night vigil. “We’re going to bring Jayme home.”