HELENA – There has been national attention this week on the case of Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old Wisconsin girl who escaped to safety Thursday – three months after her parents were killed and she was kidnapped.
Tim Harris, a longtime Helena resident, said he had seen some of the coverage of Jayme’s case.
“I remember reading about it, hearing about it,” he said. “The whole thing was not news to me.”
But what was news to Harris was that his sister Jeanne had played a significant role in Jayme’s safe return.
“She called me to say, ‘This is what happened, I just want you to know, they told us to call family and let them know that I’m okay, that nothing has happened to me, but we found Jayme Closs,’” he said. “And I was quite blown away.”
Authorities say the man who kidnapped Jayme had taken her to his home outside Gordon, Wisconsin – 70 miles from her home in Barron. On Thursday, she managed to get out and make her way down the road.
Jeanne was staying at her cabin nearby. She was walking her dog Henry when she spotted the missing girl – alone in the cold without a coat or gloves.
“The thing that was very interesting was, she told me, ‘I did not want to go for a walk, but I felt something, like God was saying, “Get up off the couch, get Henry and go for a walk,”’” said Harris. “You never know what’s going to happen. And she got out and she was on her walk, and Jayme came walking towards her.”
Harris said his sister realized she needed to get Jayme to a safe place. They quickly went to the home of a neighbor, where they called 911. Jake Patterson, the man suspected of kidnapping Jayme and killing her parents, was arrested shortly after. He is scheduled to appear in court on homicide and kidnapping charges on Monday.
Harris said his sister was the perfect person for this situation, as she had years of experience as a social worker.
“She has great concern for other people,” he said. “She primarily dealt with children – children who were in situations that might be abusive. She’s always had a real heart for working with kids.”
He said it was a great feeling to know what Jeanne had been able to do.
“I was again, just very proud of my sister,” he said. “She just loves being able to help wherever she can. It’s just an absolute trait of hers.”
Harris said Jeanne has never lived in Montana, but that she has visited almost on a yearly basis.