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Sheriff seeks 2,000 volunteers in search for missing girl

Posted at 11:32 PM, Oct 22, 2018

A week after a 13-year-old girl vanished, a local sheriff is seeking a cadre of volunteers that's equivalent to two-thirds of the population of the small Wisconsin city near the teenager's home.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald on Monday asked for 2,000 volunteers to help authorities in an expanded routine search of the area around the crime scene Tuesday for possible evidence in the investigation into Jayme Closs' disappearance. The teenager vanished early October 15 and her parents were found fatally shot in their home near the city of Barron in northwestern Wisconsin. Barron, a city of less 3 square miles, has a population of about 3,300, according to US Census figures.

Monday's call for volunteers is 10 times the number of volunteers the sheriff sought last week. Fitzgerald said more people are needed to help search a bigger area.


The sheriff also released photos of two "vehicles of interest" captured on surveillance footage near the Closs home during the killings.

The first vehicle is likely a red or orange 2008-2014 Dodge Challenger, Fitzgerald said. The second vehicle is likely either a black 2006-2010 Ford Edge or a black 2004-2010 Acura MDX, he said.

"These are vehicles of interest only," the sheriff said.

Fitzgerald said authorities don't know what license plates were on the vehicles.

Authorities have said a mysterious 911 call led deputies to discover Jayme's parents -- James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46 -- had been shot dead at the family's home. No gun was found at the scene, according to Fitzgerald.

An Amber Alert was issued for Jayme on the day she disappeared, and the FBI has added her to its online list of kidnapped or missing people.

On the 911 call, no one on the line talked to the dispatcher, but a disturbance was heard, authorities said. The dispatcher "could hear a lot of yelling" during the 911 call, which was "pinged" to the Closs home, according to a dispatch log the Barron County Sheriff's Office released Friday. When the dispatcher called the number back, a voice mail greeting indicated the phone belonged to Denise Closs.

A responding officer arrived to find "the door has been kicked in," according to the log. The family's dog was there at the home when deputies arrived.

The log does not indicate who made the 911 call or who was yelling or what was said.

More than 1,300 tips have come since Jayme's disappearance. More than 1,100 of those tips have been investigated and closed, Fitzgerald said.

On Monday, people gathered at Barron High School football stadium for an event called "A Gathering of Hope," organized by the school district. Jayme was a dancer and cross-country runner at Riverview Middle School in the district.

The evening was an attempt to heal. There was music, prayer and candlelight.

Ron Mathews, the senior pastor at First Lutheran Church in Barron, said they intentionally called the event, "A Gathering of Hope."

Hope, he said, moves people "beyond despair, fear and anxiety." "Hope is the sure presence of peace in the midst of grief and deep sadness," he said.