SARONA, Wis. (FOX 9) - Passing cars and semis honked their horns and others stopped to take pictures as a crew tore down a Jayme Closs missing person billboard along a Wisconsin highway this week. Closs was missing for 88 days, but billboards like this one kept hope alive that she would be found.
“I got to take this down today not far from where she was found,” Will Hartman wrote in a Facebook post on Monday, Jan. 14. “It felt good to take it down knowing she made it. So often it’s not the case. We had people stop and take pictures of us, cars and semi trucks honking their horns. Without words you could feel the joy for this little girl. God bless her and her family and help them in their time of need.”
The billboard Hartman helped take down was in Sarona, Wisconsin, 40 miles south down Highway 53 from the Gordon, Wisconsin cabin that Closs escaped.
As for the $50,000 reward, those who helped Jayme Closs after her escape and many in the community would like to see any and all reward money go to Jayme. After all, she found herself. The FBI in Milwaukee told FOX 9 they are still discussing what will happen with the agency’s reward.
In the 88 days she was missing, authorities took thousands of tips, but had no solid leads. FBI Special Agent Justin Tolomeo said that without Jayme’s escape, they might never have solved the case.
“In cases like this, we often need a big break and it was Jayme herself who gave us that break,” Tolomeo said.
Authorities commended Jayme for her bravery during her nearly three-month ordeal.
“It’s amazing, the will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said last Friday.
Jake Patterson, 21, is accused of abducting 13-year-old Jayme on Oct. 15 after killing her parents, Denise and James. Prosecutors allege he carefully planned her kidnapping after seeing her getting on the school bus outside of her house in Barron, Wisconsin. Patterson has been charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, one count of kidnapping and one count of armed robbery. He will return to court in February.