When 13-year-old Jayme Closs — who went missing since her parents were murdered in their Wisconsin home three months ago — showed up at Peter Kasinskas’ doorstep, he thought he “was seeing a ghost.”
The teen — whose disappearance made international headlines — was dirty, malnourished and wearing shoes that were too large when she appeared Thursday afternoon around 4 p.m. at their home in Gordon, Kasinskas and his wife told area media.
“She kind of flung the door open and said, ‘Call 911, this is Jayme Closs!’” Kasinskas told KARE 11. “I knew it was her the second she walked in the door.”
Jayme was quiet, her emotions “pretty flat,” he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I honestly still think I’m dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost. My jaw just went to the floor.”
The girl had been missing since Oct. 15, after her parents — James and Denise Closs — were found fatally shot in their Barron, Wisconsin, home.
Authorities said a suspect was in custody, but didn’t give any additional details ahead of a planned news conference at 10 a.m. Friday.
Peter’s wife, Kristin Kasinskas, told KARE 11 that she ushered the girl into her living room, where she noticed that she looked thinner “than her photograph” and exhausted.
They offered her water and food, but she declined both, said the woman, who introduced Jayme to their new puppy, Penny, and called 911.
“It took maybe a half-hour for the police to get here,” she said.
While Kasinskas said Jayme didn’t provide many details, she did make it clear that she had been taken, saying she was kept in the nearby Eau Claire Acres neighborhood.
“She didn’t express any fear,” said the schoolteacher, adding that Jayme told her someone had killed her parents. “She didn’t say that she was afraid this person was coming after her.”
Meanwhile, Sue Allard, Jayme’s aunt, could barely express her joy after learning that the girl was found.
“Praise the Lord,” she told the Star Tribune tearfully. “It’s the news we’ve been waiting on for three months. I can’t wait to get my arms around her. I just can’t wait.”
Allard said she and other family members didn’t know much about what happened — and that they were asked by police not to say too much about what they do know.
Jasmine Hightower, manager of a McDonald’s in Barron, said people are just happy to hear that Jayme is alive.
Pamela Currans, who works at a Subway in town, said she never gave up hope.
“I stayed positive,” she told the newspaper. “I knew she would be found alive … This is very awesome.”