Incredible story: 13 year-old Jayme Closs escapes abductor, finds help 3 months after parents murdered

I’ve read autobiographies of people who have survived the Holocaust and escaped form North Korea. They’re harrowing stories. They’re heartbreaking stories.

But in another sense, they’re inspiring stories, because in them, you see the triumph of the human spirit. They’re inspiring because you see what people are capable of and what true toughness and grit looks like.

We often throw around the hero loosely: an athlete leads his team to victory and we call that performance “heroic.”

I look at the story of Jayme Closs and I’m inspired by this young woman.


On October 15, 2018 a 9-1-1 call was made to the Barron, Wisconsin police at around 1am. When police got to the residence, 56 year old James Closs and his wife, 46 year old Denise Closs were both deceased. Their 13 year old daughter Jayme was missing.

A search began and in spite of thousands of leads, Jayme remained unaccounted for. There had been a huge effort from law enforcement to get Jayme’s story and picture out.


On January 10, a retired social worker was walking her dog when she was approached by a young girl.

In an interview with USA Today, Jeanne Nutter, the social worker who found Jayme describes the situation:

I went to her and she just sort of grabbed onto me and she told me who she was. I’ve been a social worker my whole life. I was in child protection, so I believe my CPS personality just turned on…My goal was to get her someplace safe, to call 911.”

She found a nearby resident and knocked on the door and said “This is Jayme Closs! Call 9-1-1.”

That must have been the shock of a lifetime.

Police quickly arrested a suspect in Jayme’s kidnapping.

In the press conference this morning, one of the authorities observed how important it was to get a break in these types of investigations, and he brought up that it was ultimately Jayme who provided the break by escaping.

Rural parts of Wisconsin can be desolate, especially in the winter time. Had she not found someone, she would have been at the mercy of the cold and of her captor potentially finding her.

It’s a horror story.

But Jayme survived. She took a risk she had to take and escaped. She was kidnapped by someone she already knew was capable of murder. Stories like these so often end in tragedy.

But Jayme survived.

I pray for her and her recovery. Physically, it sounds like she’s healthy but she will forever be impacted by these horrors. Kidnapped, held captive for months, both of her parents murdered.

Elizabeth Smart wasn’t much older than Jayme, just 14 years old, when she was kidnapped from her bedroom at knifepoint in 2002.

Last night, I re-watched a TED talk that Elizabeth Smart gave in 2014. She’s an incredible survivor too.

“Very early on, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to let these two captors win. I wasn’t going to let the take my life from me. I would do everything I possibly could to survive. Even if it meant outliving them, even if that meant surviving for another 30 years, going through this kind of abuse everyday.”

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Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.

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