BARRON, Wis. (FOX 9) - The Wisconsin State Assembly is honoring 13-year-old Jayme Closs with a Hometown Hero award Wednesday. Jayme is in the Assembly chamber to accept the honor, according to the Associated Press.
Closs was nominated for the award by Rep. Romaine Quinn
"On behalf of the state of Wisconsin, I am so proud to present our Hometown Hero award to Miss Jayme Closs," he said.
In a rare public appearnce, Closs stood in front of the Wisconsin assembly at the State Capitol and was recognized for her courage.
"After 88 days in captivity, that young lady found her way to freedom," said Quinn. "Ladies and gentlemen, that young lady is here with us today."
On Oct. 15, Jayme Closs was kidnapped from her home in Barron, Wisconsin, and both her parents were killed. She escaped on Jan. 10, and shortly after, her kidnapper Jake Patterson was arrested. The 21-year-old pleaded guilty to the murders and abduction and will be sentenced on May 24.
Many in the Barron community consider the guilty plea the end of a nightmare.
“It’s over,” said Barron Area Schools Superintendent Diane Tremblay. “My hope and prayer is that this helps everybody move forward and we’re ready.”
Residents of Barron had been consumed by the case since Jayme first went missing on Oct. 15. With the court proceedings coming to a close, they say life can get back to ‘normal’ and Jayme can hopefully find peace.
“I mean everyone is happy that it’s not going to go to trial because it would have been a lot more strain on the family,” said Bill Balts.
Balts works with Jayme’s uncle, Bob Smith. Smith and his wife Jennifer have been Jayme’s guardians since she returned home.
"I'd first like to recognize the hometown part of this Hometown Hero Award," said Jennifer Smith. "Our hometown, Barron, and the surrounding area needs to be recognized for their support, encouragement and love."
Closs has not made many public appearances, but did appear at a fundraiser on May 4 in Barron.