Jayme Closs, a young girl who escaped her kidnapper earlier this year, was honored by Wisconsin lawmakers on Wednesday. The 13-year-old appeared with family and friends to receive her honor in the Assembly chamber on Wednesday, CBS Madison affiliate WISC reported.
Rep. Romaine Quinn, a Republican from Barron, presented Closs with the “Hometown Hero” award. “Jamie, your strength, your resolve, and your bravery is beyond incredible. You are truly an inspiration and a bright light during a time of sadness,” Quinn said.
“You taught us an important lesson: no matter how grave your situation, no matter how dark your days become and no matter how impossible your circumstances may seem, there is always hope.”
It was a rare public appearance for Closs, who escaped her kidnapper in January after being held captive in a remote northwestern Wisconsin cabin for three months. Her aunt, Jen Smith, accepted the award and said Closs’s bravery and spirit are inspiring. Closs stood behind her aunt but did not speak.
In an interview with “CBS This Morning,” the woman who found Closs described the moment she encountered the teen.
“All I knew was whoever this child is, she’s in trouble, because I thought she had her pajamas on,” Jeanne Nutter said. “When I got close to her, she was first saying to me, ‘I’m lost, I don’t know where I am, I need help.’ So I hurried towards her.”
“I quickened my pace and got to her and she just sort of fell into me and said, ‘I’m Jayme,’ and I said, I know,” Nutter recalled.
Nutter said Closs was wearing only a sweatshirt, leggings and slippers in 20-degree weather, leading Nutter to conclude “she had left wherever she’d been in a hurry, or somebody just drove here and dropped her off.”
Those close to Closs said they had “no doubt” she would recover from the traumatic experience. The state of Wisconsin soon came together to support her, which culminated in Wednesday’s award ceremony.
In March, Jake Patterson pleaded guilty to kidnapping Closs and killing her parents. He faces life in prison.