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'It was so good to just hug her': Jayme Closs' family celebrates her return

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By Rachel Elbaum and Sarah Twarog

When Jayme Closs’ grandfather saw her for the first time in nearly three months, he hugged her like he never wanted to let her go.

“Oh it was so good to just hug her. How wonderful that she was back and I could hug her again,” Robert Naiberg said.

Authorities had been searching for Jayme, 13, ever since Oct. 15, when her parents were found shot dead in their Barron, Wisconsin, home. That search ended on Thursday when the missing girl suddenly emerged from the woods near Gordon, Wisconsin. She asked a woman walking her dog for help, saying she had been held captive in a nearby cabin and that she had escaped.

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Jake Patterson, 21, was charged with kidnapping and murderBarron County Sheriff’s Department / Reuters

Police have arrested and charged Jake Patterson, 21, with kidnapping and murder. He is expected to be formally charged in court on Monday. His defense attorneys said Sunday that they are requesting that he appear in court in person rather than over video link.

“We have a job to do, in terms of representing our client and protecting his rights and his interests, but we also understand the pain and the emotion that has been generated within this community,” said defense attorney Richard Jones at a news conference.

Authorities have said Patterson’s goal the night he broke into the Closs’s home was to kidnap Jayme, but it’s unclear how Patterson became aware of her, especially since he lived an hour away.

Investigators said there’s no evidence of any online interactions between him and Jayme. Her family insists they don’t know the man. Naiberg told The Associated Press that Jayme told FBI agents she doesn’t know Patterson at all.

“Prior to shooting and killing, he (the suspect) shaved his head so he didn’t leave any DNA at the crime scene— he tried to hide his evidential footprint,” police said in a statement.

Since their emotional reunion, Naiberg has seen his granddaughter every day. She’s spent time with her extended family but has not yet met up with friends, her aunt Suzi Allard said.

Jayme was taken to a hospital Thursday night and held overnight for observation. When she was released on Friday, she was first reunited with Allard’s sister, who then brought her to see her grandfather, aunt and 10 other family members.

Before Jayme’s arrival, her family bought her a new bed, pillows and clothing, Allard said. They decorated her room with butterflies, which Jayme’s mother Denise particularly loved.

Since her return, she’s spent time watching movies and leafing through albums and messages the family put together while she was missing. Her grandfather shared with her some of the many welcome home messages that have come in from people far and near. The family recorded her parent’s funeral so she can watch when she’s ready.

Though she laughs and smiles with her family, the ordeal has obviously taken a toll on the teen, according to Allard.

“She smiles, she laughs, she talks. Not a lot you know, not a lot,” she said. “She has a lot in her little brain. A lot to process.”

They have not yet talked about the time she was missing.

“When she’s ready to talk she will. But we haven’t asked her anything yet,” said Allard.

Jayme is now staying with her aunt Jennifer, who babysat her for 11 years while Denise was at work, Allard said.

For the last two nights, Jayme has slept in bed with her aunt Jennifer, her dog and Jennifer’s dog, Allard said.

Naiberg said Jayme wants to return to school.

“My sister meant the world to me and I wasn’t giving up. We were going to find her daughter because her daughter meant the world to her mom and dad,” said Allard.

Associated Press contributed.

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