Patty Wetterling to Jayme Closs' family: 'Hold on and stay strong'

Patty Wetterling said she was “dancing around” when she heard the news Thursday that 13-year-old Jayme Closs had been found alive after nearly three months. 

Closs had been missing since Oct. 15, when her parents were found shot to death in their home in Barron, Wisconsin. She was found Thursday in the town of Gordon, Wisconsin, approximately one hour from Barron. A suspect is currently in custody. 

Wetterling’s son, Jacob, was abducted in St. Joseph, Minnesota in 1989. His body was found in 2016 after his killer, Danny Heinrich, confessed.

“It’s hard to explain, it is really hard to explain because my hope was real and it’s real for every searching parent until you know that it’s not," she said. "For them, it’s real today and you can go forward from here. I’m so happy.” 

Wetterling was at a board meeting for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, D.C. when she heard that Jayme had been found. 

“I have said for a very long time I think she’s alive because if she was dead, they would have found her and they already had a crime scene with the parents being dead, and I think she was the target and she’s alive,” Wetterling said. “That was our prayer for so many years and it’s my continued prayer for missing kids out there, that many of them are still alive.”

When asked what she would tell Jayme’s extended family, Wetterling said she would tell them to stay strong for her as they piece together what happened. 

“Hold on. Hold on and stay strong because she will,” she said. “I’m praying she’ll be okay and that she can rebuild and live her whole life and follow dreams that she never believed could happen.” 

For other parents who might worry for the safety of their own children after seeing cases like these, Wetterling reminded them that situations like this are rare. 

“Stay in touch with your children,” she said. “Love your children, talk to your children and hopefully that will never happen to them. It’s so rare, but pray for those who are out there.”