Jayme Closs, the Wisconsin teen who escaped after being held captive for nearly three months, will receive a $25,000 donation that was originally intended to be awarded to anyone who offered information that led to her rescue.
The president of the Jennie-O Turkey Store announced Wednesday that the company was working with law enforcement to route the reward money so it goes directly to Closs.
The company had offered to give the reward money to authorities last month to assist with their investigation. Closs’ parents, James and Denise Closs, were longtime employees of the company’s Barron, Wisconsin, store.
“First and foremost, Jennie-O Turkey Store is a family,” Steve Lykken, Jennie-O Turkey Store president, said in a statement.
“Here in Barron our Jennie-O family is dealing with a very tragic situation,” Lykken continued. “While we are still mourning the loss of longtime family members Jim and Denise, we are so thankful for Jayme’s brave escape and that she is back in Barron.” James and Denise Closs had worked at Jennie-O for 27 years, according to their obituary.
Police first discovered that Closs was missing on Oct. 15 after law enforcement officers found both of her parents shot to death inside their home with the teenager nowhere to be found.
After months of investigation and searches, a woman who was walking her dog in the town of Gordon found Closs visibly shaken, dirty and wearing shoes too big for her, according to several news reports.
Gordon is about 70 miles from the Closses’ home.
“I was at the end of my driveway; I saw a young woman who appeared to be in distress,” Gordon resident Jeanne Nutter told “CBS This Morning” days after she found Closs. “She was probably about 10 or 12 feet from me, saying, ‘I need help.’ All I knew is, whoever this child is, she’s in trouble.”
Shortly after Closs was found, law enforcement officers arrested Gordon resident Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, and charged him with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. Investigators believe Petterson killed Closs’ parents, then held her captive in a rural cabin in Gordon.
Closs spent the first night of her freedom in her new home with her aunt Jennifer Smith, the sister of Closs’ mother.
“Jayme had a pretty good night’s sleep. It was great to know she was next to me all night. What a great feeling to have her home,” Smith said in a Facebook post earlier this month.
Lykken said that the company’s $25,000 donation would be used as a trust fund for “Jayme’s needs today and in the future.”
“Her bravery and strength have truly inspired our team members around the world,” Jim Snee, president of Jennie-O’s parent company, Hormel Foods, said in a statement. “Barron is an incredibly strong community and one that never lost hope. We celebrated with the community, and the world, that Jayme is home.”