By April Ziemer

“Believe” and “Hope” are two words often used this time of year, they are also words that Barron WI. and surrounding communities are holding onto as the holiday season approaches. The entire area is holding onto hope and the strong belief that Jayme Closs will return home.

Jayme has been missing since Oct. 15, when her parents, James and Denise Closs, were found shot to death in the family’s home just outside of Barron. Authorities ruled the deaths homicides and consider the 15-year-old girl to be endangered. 

Though it has been more than six weeks since her disappearance, police and residents remain optimistic that they’ll find Jayme alive. “We hope to have it solved before we lose that momentum and that’s our goal every day when we go to work,” said Barron County Sheriff, Chris Fitzgerald. He went on to say, “Believe that Jayme will come home. That’s what we’re running on now is belief and hope.”

Fitzgerald says they continue to examine every interview and are looking to “widen the net” by going further back on the Closs family timeline. The investigative team includes members of the Barron County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation. Fitzgerald asks the community to keep calling in tips. They’re getting fewer than 25 per day.

Barron schools asked students, staff and community members to wear green Thursday to “serve as a symbol of hope for the safe return of Jayme Closs.”

A Facebook message was sent out by the School District of Amery Wednesday, Nov. 28, which read, “The Amery Boys Basketball team plays in Barron Friday, Nov. 30. Along with the Heart O’ North conference and neighboring school districts, Amery students, staff and community members are asked to wear green to school, work and evening events Friday to serve as a symbol of hope for the safe return of Jayme Closs.” 

Barron-native Chris Kroeze who has played multiple events in Amery and is currently one of the top 10 artists on NBC’s The Voice, dedicated his Nov. 19 performance of the Beatles’ “Let It Be” on the show to Jayme and Barron. “This dedication song has a good message of hope,” said Kroeze. “My hometown has been through a lot lately, there was an abduction of a 13-year-old girl from Barron. Her name is Jayme Closs. She still hasn’t been found. It’s just unsettling you know it doesn’t happen there. This is for Barron.” He wore a green ribbon on his guitar strap to represent hope. “Barron has always been there for me and I have an opportunity to be there for them,” said Kroeze. He also performed the song in October, a week after Closs’ abduction. It was the song he chose to sing at a vigil at the Barron High School Football Stadium.

During Kroeze’s Nov. 26 performance on The Voice many Barron residents including his wife and children were shown at a viewing party wearing green for Jayme.

A Christmas tree adorned with green ribbons and Jayme’s name now sits in the lobby of Barron’s Justice Center. The tree is decorated with ornaments and ribbons in green and blue spelling “JAYME” and is topped with a ribbon that says “Prayers For Jayme.” The white tree skirt is printed with the word “Hope,” and red-and-green gift bags under the tree say “Believe.”

A statement released Tuesday by Fitzgerald said, “Our Christmas tree in our lobby, was decorated by the ladies in the of Court Office. It is the true meaning of this case, believe and hope we will bring her home.” Fitzgerald shared that he did not know about the way the staff was going to decorate and said, “but just like Christmas should be, it brought a smile to my face.”

The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information that brings Jayme home. Anyone with information that may help the case is asked to call 1-855-744-3879. 

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