Jeanne Nutter, a social worker, is the dog walker who found Jayme Closs, the missing 13-year-old girl from Barron, Wisconsin, who disappeared in October 2018 after her parents were gunned down in the family home. She’s now describing the dramatic moment that the teenager, looking thin and with matted hair, ran out of the woods.
“I went to her and she just sort of grabbed onto me and she told me who she was. I’ve been a social worker my whole life. I was in child protection, so I believe my CPS personality just turned on,” Nutter told USA Today. “My goal was to get her someplace safe, to call 911.”
In a chilling 12-page criminal complaint released on January 14, 2019, authorities gave every indication that Jake Patterson allegedly acted alone. They accuse him of kidnapping Jayme after randomly seeing her getting on a school bus outside her family’s Barron home. He didn’t know her name or the names of her parents then but, the complaint alleges, “When he saw (Jayme) he knew that was the girl he was going to take.” (You can read the criminal complaint in full and get more details from it here.)
Nutter’s husband, a retired police officer who has taught criminal justice, also briefly spoke about his wife’s discovery of Jayme to The Daily Beast. Nutter also spoke – but without her name – to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Authorities had responded to a 911 call made from a cell phone inside the Closs home in Barron, and they found Jayme’s father, James Closs, shot dead in the doorway, and her mother, Denise Closs, gunned down elsewhere in the small single-family home. Both parents worked at the local turkey plant in Barron. The teenage girl was missing ever since, and local authorities had repeatedly expressed frustration that they didn’t have more leads.
That all changed when the teenager approached Jeanne Nutter. Now, authorities confirmed, they’ve located Jayme Closs alive, and they have an unidentified suspect in custody. According to KARE 11, Jayme was found at Eau Claire Acres, “a small development about six miles east of Gordon, Wisconsin on Highway Y.” It’s a rural wooded area clustered with cabins. Authorities have not released any details, including the suspect’s name, motive, or connection to the Closs family, if any.
Here’s what you need to know:
Jeanne Nutter’s Husband Says Jayme ‘Just Came Out of the Woods’
The Daily Beast reported that Jeanne Nutter found Jayme as she walked her dog near a cabin that she and her husband Forrest own near Gordon, Wisconsin.
“The girl just came out of the woods,” Forrest Nutter told The Daily Beast. “She [Jeanne] kept her composure and took the girl to a safe place and called the sheriff’s department. She called and said they found Jayme and she was going to the hospital.” He added of his wife: “It was really very stressful for her and she is not up to talking about it.”
Forrest Nutter told Daily Beast that the suspect “is one of only a few people who live in Eau Claire Acres year-round.” The small community of Gordon is located just over an hour from Barron, the town where Jayme disappeared and where her parents were murdered. It’s a tiny community with just over 600 people located in Douglas County, the far northern reaches of the State of Wisconsin.
Another neighbor told Daily Beast that the family that owns the suspect cabin has had run ins with law enforcement over the years. Jeanne Nutter has worked in the School of Social Work as an adviser for an university in northern Wisconsin. Her Facebook page contains many photos of her with her dog and enjoying the Wisconsin outdoors.
Another Neighbor Says Jayme Was Skinny With Matted Hair & Wearing Too-Big Shoes When Nutter Found Her
Kristin Kasinskas, a teacher who lives nearby, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that her neighbor walking a dog “frantically knocked” on Kasinskas’s door around 4 p.m. on January 10.
“Standing with her was a skinny, dirty girl with matted hair, wearing shoes too big for her feet,” the Star Tribune reported. “This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!” the neighbor said to Kasinskas, according to the newspaper, which said that Jayme was described as quiet with emotions that were “pretty flat.” The family tried to calm her with their puppy and offered her water and food, but she didn’t take it, the newspaper reported.
Kristin revealed to The Today Show: “She kind of talked about being locked up or hidden when this person had to leave, but she did not go into any detail about how she got away.”
She added that Jayme seemed cold. “She seemed kind of in shock, and kind of timid, but she did talk to us a little bit. She came in and sat down in our living room and was able to have a conversation with us,” she said to The Today Show.
The woman who found Jayme spoke to the Star Tribune without her name being printed. She told the newspaper that Jayme “came up to me and said she wanted help.” She said she thought she knew who Jayme was, but then Jayme provided her name, the Star Tribune reported. Jayme seemed to not realize where Gordon was located.
Christina Palladino of Fox 9 wrote on social media that she spoke to Jayme’s aunt and “Jayme is talking and seems to be in ok spirits…Apparently still at a hospital near Duluth and will be talking with investigators all night piecing together the details of what happened.”
Family Members Are Rejoining Over the Girl’s Sudden Discovery
Family members have started adding the filter “welcome home Jayme” to their Facebook pages.
“Sheriff Fitzgerald, Law Enforcement and their families, reporters, Chris Kroeze, facebook friends and all our surrounding communities who came together to bring Jayme home……THANK YOU!” wrote one of Jayme’s relatives on Facebook. “There are no words to describe how humbling it is to have so many people who don’t even know you come together to help our family. We will forever hold you all close to our hearts. Please celebrate with us tonight! And in the days to come…..please continue to pray….now for Jayme’s well-being and our families healing. Continue to pray for all the children who are still missing this day that they may too be reunited with thier families. From the bottom of our hearts with sincere gratitude…..THANKYOU!”
Jeff Closs, Jayme’s uncle, told KARE11 after she was found: “It was just unbelievable because you hear about … you’re not sure if she’s going to be found. And when you actually hear it, it’s just unbelievable. We’re all just so grateful and happy. We thought it was going to be a different ending and we’re so happy that you know, hopefully she’s OK, we don’t really know what shape she’s in. Or you know, we don’t really know a lot, all we know is just she’s alive.”
The Sheriff’s Department Confirmed That Jayme Was Found & Described the Investigation as Fluid
It was the miracle that many were hoping and praying was still possible but, as the months passed with seemingly no leads, it had seemed less and less likely that Jayme would be found alive. However, that’s exactly what the Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin announced.
Here is the full statement that the Barron County Sheriff’s Department released on the evening of January 10, 2019:
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 suspect was taken into custody in regards to this case. We do not any other details at this time as this is a very fluid and active investigation. We will not be answering any questions or taking calls on this tonight.
We are planning a press briefing approximately 10 am tomorrow at the Sheriff’s Department in Barron. We are receiving support from the FBI and WI DCI agents as this investigation continues.
We want to thank the Douglas Co Sheriff’s Department and agencies assisting them tonight. We also want to thank all the Law Enforcement agencies across the state and county that have assisted us in this case. We also could not have endured this case without the support of the public and I want to thank them for all the support and help.
Finally we want to especially thank the family for their support and patience while this case was ongoing. We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!
This case has been very trying on the family so please respect their privacy and we reunite them later tonight.
Here’s the sheriff’s post on Facebook:
The Douglas County Sheriff also wrote on Facebook, “I am very pleased to announce that Jayme Closs was located late this afternoon within Douglas County. I cannot release anymore details at this time as the investigation is ongoing. Great job to the members of the DGSO who helped in locating Jayme and the citizen who phoned in the information.”
The Barron County sheriff has described a violent scene and said there was a shooting in the house.
“Our deputies on scene. This is a tough scene. And they’re frustrated,” said Fitzgerald in a news conference the day after Jayme vanished. “…It’s just a different scene for us. We don’t have a suspect. We don’t have any leads right now. We’re working very diligently right now to get those leads. We’re working with other agencies.” He encouraged the public to share Jayme’s photo.
The Star Tribune reported that the suspect is 21-years-old.