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Search intensifies for missing teen, days after parents found shot to death in Wisconsin home

A months-long manhunt ended Jan. 10 after 13-year-old Jayme Closs, who went missing for three months after her parents were murdered, fled her captor. (Video: Allie Caren, Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)
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When Jayme Closs’s teacher asked her and the other students to consider how they would spend $1 million, the 13-year-old had a pretty simple answer.

The blond-haired, green-eyed teenager, who has been described as a “sweet,” “quiet” and “loyal friend,” wrote that she would “feed the hungry and give the rest to the poor,” Diane Tremblay, superintendent of the Barron Area School District, said Tuesday during a news conference.

Jayme disappeared this week from her home in Barron, Wis., where her parents were discovered dead in the early hours of Monday morning, authorities said. It’s not clear what happened to the girl. Investigators have said they think she was home when her parents were killed and taken in the moments after the attack, but have released few other details.

During a Wednesday evening news conference, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said autopsies on the parents had been completed, and that they had died from gunshot wounds.

For the third straight day Wednesday, local law enforcement and the FBI were searching for the teen.

“I haven’t seen anything like this in rural western Wisconsin. We just don’t see this,” Fitzgerald said. “We want to bring Jayme home.”

“Every second counts in this case,” he added.

A 6-year-old with autism vanished during a family walk. The FBI is searching for him.

Fitzgerald told reporters Tuesday that Jayme is “missing and endangered,” noting there is an active Amber Alert for the teen.

Authorities have described Jayme as a 5-foot, 100-pound 13-year-old girl with strawberry-blonde hair and green eyes. Jayme had been seen at a birthday party Sunday afternoon and relatives told CBS News that she seemed well.

4:00 pm press conference.

Posted by Barron County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The tragedy unfolded about 1 a.m. Monday with a cryptic 911 call to police.

“We could hear yelling in the background on this 911 call,” Fitzgerald, the sheriff, said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” show. He added that “no one interacted with our dispatchers, so it was just kind of an open line, where we could hear different things in the background.”

Officials with the sheriff’s department said in a statement that when deputies arrived at the home in Barron, 40 miles from the Minnesota border, they discovered two dead adults, who were later identified by police as Jayme’s father and mother, 56-year-old James Closs and 46-year-old Denise Closs.

Jayme was gone.

Fitzgerald said on Wednesday that deputies got to the house within four minutes of the end of the 911 call. “There was no one on site [and] no vehicles in the immediate area when deputies arrived,” he said.

FBI officials in Milwaukee said on social media at the time that it appeared that Jayme may have been “taken” from her home, “likely with a gun.”

Fitzgerald said on the “Today” show that Jayme is not a suspect in the case. During Wednesday’s news conference, he identified no suspects or people of interest, but he said he “100 percent” believes Jayme is alive.

Although authorities said they have traced the cellphone used to make the 911 call, they said they could not provide further information about who may have made the call.

‘I want my baby back’: Search intensifies for 6-year-old who vanished during family walk

Fitzgerald told reporters during the news conference Wednesday that investigators have received more than 400 tips and are following up on them.

“Every minute does count. That’s why this operation is running 24/7,” he said.

Ed Downing Sr., who was identified as a family member, said on the “Today” show that he hopes authorities can bring Jayme home safely.

“She was just a simple little small-town girl with a lot of big dreams, I think. You know?” Downing said. “I sure hope she lives to see them.”

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