In a case that captivated the country, 13-year-old Jayme Closs was rescued nearly three months after being abducted from her home.
On October 15, 2018, in Barron, Wisconsin, Jayme was abducted after an unknown person broke into the family home and murdered her mother and father. Law enforcement and community members launched a massive search, and an endless stream of media coverage and social media postings inundated the region, but Jayme was not found.
For 88 days Jayme was held captive in a cabin some 70 miles from her family home. On January 11, 2018, she escaped and ran into the arms of a passerby who immediately recognized her from media reports.
Her captor was a 21-year-old man. He had no ties to the family and, according to media reports, selected Jayme randomly when he saw her get off a school bus.
Thankfully Jayme is now safe with her family again. She survived and will now work at rebuilding her life without her parents. Her captor will never be able to hurt anyone again.
Random stranger kidnappings of children are amongst the rarest of crimes, yet are probably the most impactful. Collectively we share a basic instinct to protect our children and keep them safe. When their safety is threatened, we respond with a vengeance.
The criminals who commit these horrific crimes are outliers, the rarest of the monsters police officers will ever encounter. But when these cases occur, they stay in our memory. The names of their victims and the circumstances are something we never seem to forget.
On June 10, 1991, 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped while walking from her home to a school bus stop in Meyers, California. Her stepfather witnessed the kidnapping. Despite a massive search and media campaign, she was not located. Eighteen years later, in August of 2009, she was located when University of Berkley police officers became suspicious of a man with two young girls who was on parole. The suspect reported to the parole office with the now 29-year-old Jaycee Dugard. Both the suspect and his wife were arrested and convicted of kidnapping and sexual assault. Jaycee had two children from the suspect while being held captive.
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What a miracle!!! Jayme Closs has been found!!!! I’m so thrilled to hear the news. What has been such a heart wrenching tragedy finally has some happiness in the story. I’m praying for Jayme and all her family that they can have a joyous reunion and as the rest of the country celebrates alongside this happy occasion we all are mindful to give the family their space and privacy on their road to finding a new sense of normal and moving forward. I have no doubt Jayme and her family will forever appreciate the efforts and prayers of the many thousands of people who contributed and kept them in their thoughts and prayers! I hope we may all continue to support and embrace Jayme as she reclaims her life and comes to terms with the reality of her situation. What a brave, strong, and powerful survivor!!!! No matter what may unfold in her story let’s all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED and whatever other details may surface the most important will still remain that she is alive. May god bless you Jayme Closs and may we all continue to search for every missing child. #miracleshappen #novictimblaming #hope #findingnormal #survivor #strong #brave
A then 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City, Utah family home on June 5, 2002. She was held captive for nine months by a deranged couple who believed themselves to be prophets and who walked around in robes. Elizabeth was found 5 miles from her home in the town of Sandy after witnesses recognized her kidnapper from composite drawings in the news media. She was rescued and her kidnappers were both sentenced to life in prison.
Shawn Hornbeck and Brian Ownby
On October 2, 2002, 11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck was kidnapped while riding his bike to a friend’s house in Richwoods, Missouri. He was not seen again until four years later, when FBI agents were looking for 13-year-old Brian Ownby. Ownby had been kidnapped 4 days earlier. The agents identified a possible suspect and after tracking him down discovered Ownby with Hornbeck and his captor. The kidnapper was sentenced to life in prison.
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus were all kidnapped between 2002 and 2004 in Cleveland, Ohio by a man who held them in dungeon-like conditions. On May 6, 2013, Berry managed to work her way to the front door area, where she was able to contact neighbors who alerted police. Berry, her 6-year-old daughter, and the other two women were rescued. Their kidnapper plead guilty and was sentenced to life in prison, where he committed suicide.
"LIKE & SHARE" TO CONGRATULATE! Amanda Berry & Gina DeJesus honored at John Marshall High School's graduation ceremony….
Posted by Cleveland 19 News on Thursday, May 28, 2015
Monsters are real. I’ve purposely not named any of the kidnappers in these cases. They are best forgotten. Monsters like them walk our streets and while we cannot let our fear overcome us we can never forget the victims who have endured and have survived and, in some cases, have gone on to thrive. Their names we should never forget.
Joe Vargas is a retired police captain. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.