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Missing Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs reunites with family: 'It was so good to hug her'

New photos show 13-year-old Jayme Closs, who was held captive for three months after her parents' murder, back with relatives and her dog. "When she's ready to talk she will," her aunt said.
/ Source: TODAY

Jayme Closs, the Wisconsin teenager who last week escaped her kidnapper and parents' suspected killer, is now back home surrounded by loved ones and adjusting to a life forever changed.

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

New photos show the 13-year-old teen smiling with her aunts, reunited with her dog, Molly, and readjusting to life after three months of captivity. Authorities said the girl witnessed the Oct. 15 murder of her parents, James and Denise Closs, who were found shot to death in their Barron, Wisconsin, home.

Jayme had been reported missing for the next 88 days until her escape last week.

After a brief trip to the hospital, the girl was reunited with her family. She has yet to talk about her time in captivity.

"When she's ready to talk she will. But we haven't asked her anything yet,” said her aunt, Suzi Allard.

Jayme Closs
Jayme Closs, 13, and her aunt, Jennifer Naiberg Smith, pose with the girl's dog, Molly.Getty Images

“She smiles, she laughs, she talks — not a lot, you know, not a lot. And then she'll be — she’s off into another world,” she said.

Authorities last week arrested Jake Patterson, 21, in connection with the girl’s disappearance and her parents' death. Patterson, who police said used a shotgun to kill Closs' parents, will be formally charged with kidnapping and murder in a court appearance scheduled for Monday.

Authorities don’t believe Patterson had any regular contact with Jayme’s family before the alleged attack.

“We didn't have the suspect on a radar. That's kind of unique in this case,” said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. “I'm saying he randomly picked her.”

Jayme Closs
Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, is accused of fatally shooting Jayme Closs's parents and holding her captive in his Wisconsin home.Getty Images

Fellow kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, who is now a child safety activist, called Closs a “hero.”

“I think she’s incredible, amazing, so strong. Wow, what a girl,” she told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on Monday.

Smart was kidnapped in 2002 when she was 14 and repeatedly raped and assaulted for the next nine months. She said that Jayme will be spending the coming months trying to find “a new normal, and coming to terms with that and accepting that.”

Asked if she had any advice for helping Jayme heal, Smart said there's no simple solution to helping survivors like herself, Jayme and others.

“The one thing that I’ve learned is that, there is no one-size fits all. There is not a magic formula. Each one of us has to figure out what works for each one of us,” she said.

"You just have to find what works for you. But I think the important thing is to know that’s what you want. To know that you want to be better. To know that’s what makes you happy," she said.

But if there's any message she could relay to Jayme, it's to always remember that she did nothing wrong.

"I know that a lot of times, a lot of survivors do deal with feelings of guilt, and a lot of times it does comes from questions from others," Smart said. "So I would want her to first and foremost to know that she did nothing wrong, she did absolutely everything right. She survived. That’s amazing."