EXCLUSIVE: Barron County Sheriff on Jayme Closs case: 'The hope is out there'

- The days in the Jayme Closs investigation has turned into weeks. In an exclusive interview, Fox 9's Paul Blume asked Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald where the case currently stands.

This weekend, it seemed like investigators had finally received the break they so badly needed in the desperate two-week search for 13-year-old Jayme Closs. A local man, Kyle Jaenke-Annis, was allegedly caught red-handed breaking into the Closs family home over the weekend just hours before Jayme’s parents were to be laid to rest.

Charging documents detail that the 32-year-old was looking specifically for Jayme’s clothing. He had her underwear, a couple tank tops and a dress jammed into his pocket.

“We executed search warrants yesterday because again, we thought same thing as the general public, this was a good lead for us,” said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. “We had several agents hit the ground running.”

But Sheriff Fitzgerald explained the possible lead also proved to be a dead end as Jaenke-Annis didn’t have a vehicle and his alibis checked out.

Fitzgerald says Jaenke-Annis has a history of breaking and entering and dressing up in girls’ clothing. The sheriff explained Jaenke-Annis probably saw what he thought was an easy target.

“He wasn’t there stealing shoes and backpacks and jeans,” said Fitzgerald. “He was stealing specific items that interested him. Not to outfit Jayme wherever she is.”

As cleaning crews descended on the Closs family home Tuesday, the question now remains - where does this search for Jayme go next?

The sheriff reports tips have now topped 2,000, but are slowing. Among the tips still under investigation include those regarding the two vehicles of interest.

"In fact, people that have owned red Dodge Challengers have called to say, ‘I own one. Come and interview me, so I can be cleared,'" he said. "We have license plate numbers on a list, so they’re not interviewed twice."

The joint investigative ground team in Barron has also been cut in half since its peak of 200-plus in the immediate aftermath of the brutal crime. So far, no new evidence has come in about Jayme's whereabouts.

"There’s been sightings or possible sightings of her," said Fitzgerald. "Those have been cleared. But the hope is out there. That’s what we run on, hope every day and we’re gonna bring Jayme home.”

The sheriff promises though, no one is giving up.

“It’s Day 16 of driving here, saying goodbye to my kids at home,” said Fitzgerald. “But everybody here has same mission: to bring this 13-year-old girl home.”

The sheriff’s office is continuing to ask anyone with information related to the case to call the tip line at 1-855-744-3879 or email jaymetips@co.barron.wi.us with any photos or videos of possible sightings.

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