Sheriff: Wisconsin parents shot to death while teen daughter was in the home
BARRON, Wis. -- The young Wisconsin teenager who is the subject of a nationwide search was in the family's home when her parents were shot and killed, authorities said Wednesday. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said that 46-year-old Denise...
BARRON, Wis. - The young Wisconsin teenager who is the subject of a nationwide search was in the family's home when her parents were shot and killed, authorities said Wednesday.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said that 46-year-old Denise Closs and 56-year-old James Closs were victims of homicide. Their bodies were found in their home on the outskirts of town here early Monday morning.
Fitzgerald said results of autopsies performed on the couple indicated that they died of gunshot wounds. He said that deputies arrived at the family's home within 4 minutes of a 911 call but found no suspects or gun at the scene and no sign of Jayme Closs, the couple's 13-year-old daughter.
In the three days since, dozens of investigators have tracked and dissected more than 400 tips but have yet to locate the girl, who local, state and federal law enforcement officials fear is in harm's way.
Fitzgerald said during an afternoon news conference Wednesday that he doesn't know the motive behind the killings, and again pleaded for the public's help in reporting tips or leads that may help investigators find Jayme.
So far, he added, "we have received no tips of a credible sighting" of the girl. He also said that there are no viable suspects at this time.
"Is it a random attack or a target attack? I don't know that answer," the sheriff said during the news conference. "That's why those leads are so important."
Fitzgerald has yet to say how long the parents were dead before the bodies were discovered after the 911 call brought deputies to the home, which is set back in woods along Highway 8 just west of town. Family members told CBS News in a telephone interview that the front door of the family's home was shot in.
The sheriff has said that investigators could hear yelling in the background during the 911 call, but that nobody conversed with dispatchers.
Jayme's grandfather, 72-year-old Robert Naiberg, said nothing seemed amiss at the family gathering attended by Jayme and her mother Sunday afternoon. He said Jayme's father was at work at the time. James and Denise Closs both were longtime employees at the Jennie-O Turkey Store in Barron, which has a hatchery and processing plant.
Naiberg, Denise Closs' father, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Jayme "was quiet as always" at his grandson's birthday party. Denise Closs, Naiberg said, was "a thoughtful person (who brought) a little gift for everybody" at the party.
Fitzgerald said it's his belief the gathering was where Jayme was last known to be, adding that it was not held at the Closs home.
A more somber gathering was held Tuesday night, when a community vigil at St. Peter Catholic Church brought people together to pray for Jayme's safe return. Ribbons of blue and green were handed out - blue for the teen's favorite color; green for awareness about missing children.
As the search for the teen entered its third day Wednesday, local residents were still trying to come to terms with the stunning news of the killings and the girl's disappearance.
"This just doesn't happen. It's just the stuff of nightmares," said Rachel Svendsen, a baker's assistant at the bakery in town. "I think people are just holding their families closer because of this."
They also longed for answers.
"It's scary ... " Svendsen added. "If it can happen once, can it happen again? There's just so many unknowns."
The FBI, state investigators and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are assisting Barron County in the search for the girl that Fitzgerald described as a "sweet and shy 13-year-old who enjoys dancing and sports."
The national center said Monday afternoon that an Amber Alert had been issued in an effort to spread the word about Jayme's disappearance. The center's notice said the teen was taken from her home early Monday morning, "likely with a gun."
Among the tips was one from Miami, where police tweeted about an SUV spotted at a gas station with Wisconsin license plates and a passenger who may have been Jayme.
Many hours later, the Wisconsin sheriff said that while "I can't say that it was not her ... we have no credible information about the Miami incident."
Jayme is described as white, 5 feet tall, 100 pounds, with green eyes and blond or strawberry blond hair.
Anyone with information that could lead to her being found is urged to contact 911 or the Sheriff's Office at (715) 537-3106.