Jayme Closs has apparently vanished into thin air. In what is one of the most embarrassing cases of recent memory, the 13-year-old teenager from Barron, Wisconsin, disappeared after his parents, James and Denise Closs, were found murdered in their modest rural home.
Barron is a city of about 3,300 inhabitants located in a small community dominated by a turkey plant where both parents of Closs worked. The family lived in a house surrounded by a wooded area a short distance from the city limits of Barron. Barron is located in northwestern Wisconsin and the family lived along Highway 8, a fairly busy thoroughfare in the country community.
Closs's disappearance is disconcerting in many ways, starting with the somewhat unusual admission of the local sheriff that the authorities had virtually no advantage. "Our Members … are frustrated," said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald at one of the first press conferences. "… It's just a different scene for us, we do not have a suspect, we do not have any contacts right now, we're working diligently right now to get those contacts, we're working with other agencies."
Since then, only a few facts based information have emerged. The authorities have stopped holding their press conferences twice a day in favor of vague press releases that generally take the form of exhortations to the public to keep the clues in check, such as someone's changing behavior. The FBI is in the city.
While community members express fear, amateur Internet investigators have taken the trouble to walk through possible theories in the case. If the authorities have a work theory in the case, they do not say it.
Here are some of the theories and how they are in contrast with publicly known facts:
The killers could have hit the wrong house?
This theory was popularized by some who live near Barron because the authorities issued a cryptic statement in which they claimed to have discovered serious criminal activities in the area, but said it was not related to the Closs case.
The area in which the Closses lived has one of the worst problems with methamphetamine in the state of Wisconsin. This theory has some things going for this; the kicks in the door would seem to adapt to the action, for example, of a drug dealer who breaks into a house to confront, kill or rob another drug dealer – and perhaps get the wrong address.
However, there are problems with this theory; that is to say, why would they then take Jayme? Why kill both parents? Why did they spend 23 minutes inside the house? (Who assumes that the neighbor's chronology is correct, the neighbor reported hearing two strong gunshots around 12:30 pm A call to 911 with screaming in the background, but no one spoke at 12:53 and authorities arrived four minutes later.)
Of course, if this theory were correct, it is possible that the killer (s) was necessary to take Jayme because he was a witness. However, they had already killed two people, so why would they hesitate to simply kill a third person on the scene? Unless they could bear to harm a child or they thought they had no time because someone had called 911.
The authorities have launched a search for ditches on miles of road to Turtle Lake on Highway 8. They said they had found nothing to do with the case.
Did the killer kill parents to kidnap Jayme for a sexually deviant reason?
This is unfortunately possible because Jayme is missing. So, it is possible that she was always the target. She was visible in the community because she was involved in dance and sport. However, some sexual or serial deviants would not have chosen to kidnap Jayme when she was alone? It seems rather audacious and excessive to kill both parents and throw down their door in the middle of the night. There are easier ways to kidnap someone, certainly.
Yet it is known that it will happen. Some people on Reddit have raised the unrelated case of Joseph Duncan as an example of a sexually deviant stalking-type killer who had a somewhat similar MO. He invaded the home of a family, killed a mother, her boyfriend and a child, and then kidnapped two other children, eventually killing one of them. Duncan was a serial killer; Shasta Groene, 8, was finally recovered alive after the Amber alarm was issued.
A variant of this theory claims that Jayme met someone online who was able to kidnap her or that someone she knew had done (compared to some devious stranger like the Groene case). The same problems would be valid in that scenario. Why go to this degree of problems? Would not there be simpler ways? Also, online predators do not attract their victims? If the Closses knew the aggressor, why would the person need to kick the door?
Jayme Closs could have killed her parents?
It was easy to find people speculating that perhaps the teenager had killed his parents and then escaped in the days after his death. However, a leaked 911 shipment report cast doubt on the possibility that Denise and James Closs could die by the daughter's hand: the door to the family home was kicked.
It's quite difficult to develop a scenario in which Jayme would have kicked the door just before one, so this theory seems more and more plausible. If you drive near the house, you can clearly see that the door is missing. Also, Jayme Closs is only 5 feet tall and weighs 100 pounds, according to his missing poster. It's hard to see how he could kick a door and get past the much bigger parents – two of them – and just as unlikely that he would shoot his dad at the door. The details that emerged in the case make this theory seem unlikely.
Also, Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald was asked early if Jayme Closs was suspected, and said he was not. The authorities are seeing her as a missing endangered person right now, he said. No one has publicly stated that there were any problems between Jayme and her parents, and she was described as particularly close to her mother, even "inseparable".
The sheriff said of Jayme, "Right now, she's missing and in danger, she's not listed as suspicious, and for now, we focus only on finding a frightened 13-year-old girl."
Could one of the parents kill the other in a homicide murder?
This theory claims that James or Denise Closs killed the other parent and 1) they also killed Jayme earlier somewhere else or 2) Jayme witnessed the violent act between the parents and escaped into a serious trauma in the woods or in the fields near the house, where it is hiding today.
This theory was dispelled by the forces of order, however. The sheriff revealed that autopsies determined that both parents were homicide victims.
"His parents died from gunshot wounds, which is why we are ruling this murder, no guns were found on the scene," Fitzgerald said. "We believe that Jayme was at home based on evidence in our case, some of which are derived from the one called 911 and part of it is part of the active investigation, and we can not comment on why we believe it."
The 911 shipping records show that the death of James Closs was initially reported as a possible suicide, but, in a few minutes, Denise Closs's body was also found and the call was changed to murder. No gun was found on the scene, denying even the possibility of suicide. Also, the passage of time makes it much less likely that Jayme could be huddled in some wooded areas due to trauma. A 911 phone call from home was made on Denise Closs's phone, but authorities say they do not know who did it because they only heard screams from the other side. Furthermore, the 911 records obtained by CNN indicate that the authorities did not find Closs bodies lying next to each other, since it took a couple of minutes before they revealed they had found a second body on the scene.
In addition, the authorities used drones and infrared technology throughout the house and found no sign of Jayme. The other oddity in the case is that the killer (s) was only four minutes after the 911 call was sent to escape the scene with the girl.
Would Jayme have an older boyfriend?
Another popular theory claims that maybe Jayme had an older boy who conspired with him or was kidnapped by him. This theory holds that the unidentified boyfriend would have killed Jayme's parents to escape with her or protect her from some kind of problem at home.
There are many flaws in this theory, however, and no proof that it is publicly disclosed. The sheriff was asked at a press conference if Jayme had a boyfriend, and said he did not know. One might think that if he had a boyfriend, he would have told a friend, and this would have leaked to the media at this point. However, no one close to thirteen claimed to have a boyfriend. Also, someone would not notice that the boyfriend was missing too?
The dog of the family was alone in the house, unharmed, when the authorities arrived, the call to 911 revealed. Would Jayme agree to leave the animal unattended and alone? Furthermore, Jayme has been described as a sweet and shy young man; nobody has said anything negative about her, describing her as involved in cross country and attentive to the poor.
Do one or both parents have a habit or a secret that made them objective?
Denise Closs has been described as a kind and friendly person near her daughter. Her husband looks like a more solitary character. One theory holds that a parent could have been targeted due to a kind of vice.
As noted, the area has a severe methamphetamine problem, but no one has reported any link between parents and this. An Indian casino is located about 10 minutes down the road to Turtle Lake (St. Croix), and the call to 911 indicates that the authorities almost immediately tried to contact security. However, this may have been to see if there was a video, particularly towards the 8th highway. The authorities did not explain the reference to the casino.
Denise Closs had a $ 14,000 sentence against her in the past, but dates back to 2011 and she was satisfied, as the Wisconsin court documents show.
Why would a similar person take Jayme, though? Why kill both parents?
James Closs was divorced but that relationship was broken back in 1998, according to Wisconsin court data. Neither parent had a criminal history. If they were involved in some important vices that led to their death, it seems to have been pretty well hidden. But you never know. Certainly, because of the distance from the house, especially in the darkness of the night in the countryside, it is difficult to imagine that the house was chosen at random.
Denise Closs has been described as religious and kind.
Can one or both parents have a beef with someone at work?
Both parents worked in the Jennie-O turkey factory in Barron. Could they have entered with a colleague? While this is theoretically possible, those who have worked with parents have yet to publicly indicate any hint of problems at work, instead saying positive things about parents.
Also, why kill them this way and at this time and place (around 1 on a first Monday)? Deaths from violence at work often occur in the … workplace. Also: why take Jayme?
This could have been a theft?
In a heavy meth area, this is always possible, but killing two people and abducting a third party seems to be a rather dramatic escalation of a theft, and the 911 call indicates that James Closs was killed right outside the door and had responded. Also, the house was hardly on a higher scale (there are higher value targets around), and with both parents employed, a thief would never have waited until someone was home? A thief could open a door and open fire immediately? It does not seem to adapt.
Has Jayme been a victim of sexual trafficking?
There have been some cases of sexual trafficking in the area, leading this to become a popular theory. However, sex traffickers would really attract this degree of heat on their operations? It seems that sex traffickers often attract vulnerable teenagers in their traps or target them in places where they are vulnerable (inside a house with parents present hardly qualifies as such). It is hard to imagine that a sex trafficker could run the risk of committing a double murder and triggering an FBI intervention and an Amber alarm to capture a child only when there are softer targets. Sex traffickers seem to prefer to work in the shadows.
The sheriff said that in this case there is no credible information that refers to sexual trafficking. Also, how could Jayme be a victim of trafficking when it is now so famous?
The disconcerting part of this case is that there are so many possible theories, so little evidence points to any of them. Moreover, every possibility has defects, making the truth elusive. Let us know in the comment thread what you think happened to Jayme Closs.
Reddit has discussions with the theories about the disappearance of Jayme Closs. You can find this subreddit here.