BARRON, Wis. (FOX 9) - This week marks one year since Jayme Closs, then 13, was abducted and her parents were murdered in their Barron, Wisconsin home.
Her abductor, Jake Patterson, held Jayme captive for 88 days before she escaped.
On Monday, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald held a press conference to celebrate Jayme’s heroism and her continued healing as well as focus attention on the cases of other missing children in Wisconsin
JAYME: 'I FEEL STRONGER EVERY DAY'
Jayme did not attend the news conference, but she provided a statement for the Closs family attorney, Chris Gramstrup, to read.
“I really want to thank everyone for all the kindness and concern that people all over the country have shown me,” her statement read. “I’m very happy to be home and getting back to the activities that I enjoy. I love hanging out with all of my friends and I feel stronger every day.”
Gramstrup said the teenager has had an “extremely busy summer” spending time with her aunts and friends, hiking through state parks and attending many family events, such as weddings and her own large birthday celebration. He added she has especially enjoyed getting back into a routine and spending time with her friends.
“She’s a very social young woman and she really enjoys connecting and being with her good friends,” he said.
Gramstrup said Jayme has been an inspiration to the people around her as she moves on from her ordeal last fall.
“She continues to work very hard on her emotional wellbeing,” he said. “She’s moving forward courageously and she is reclaiming her own life.”
Jayme is now living with her aunt and uncle in Barron and has returned to school.
CLOSS CASE SPARKS HOPE FOR OTHER MISSING CHILDREN CASES
Monday’s news conference also focused on the idea of never giving up hope for other missing children across Wisconsin and beyond.
Officials from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children attended the news conference. They said Jayme’s story shows how working together can help solve cases.
“When that brave little girl [Jayme] escaped, that’s how missing children come home, when communities pull together and we work collaboratively,” Roberty Lowery, the vice president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said.
One case includes Sara Bushland, a 15-year-old who went missing on April 3, 1996 from Spooner, Wisconsin. Authorities know she got off the school bus that day, but after that it remains a mystery.
“A lot of Jayme’s case really pulled our heart strings because she got off the school bus and never seen again," said Lesley Small, Sara's sister. "When the info about the school bus came out, of course that sent us into high alert.”
Sara Bushland's family now runs a Facebook page to keep her story alive in hopes to get new information.
“When Jayme was found, I prayed that the person that took her was over 40 - that would’ve given me hope he had something to do with Sara’s disappearance," said Mike Bushland, Sara's father. "But he wasn’t. That hope is gone. But like I said, someone knows something."