In October last year, 13-year-old Jayme Closs went missing from her house in Barron, Wisconsin. Her parents had been shot dead, and she had apparently been abducted late at night. For 88 days, nobody knew where she was, and a $50,000 reward was offered for anyone who could save her.
Then, on January 10, 2019, the teenager was found walking along a road - barely dressed and struggling in the icy temperatures - by former social worker Jeanne Nutter. She had managed to escape all by herself, and later identified her abductor and the murderer of her parents as 21-year-old Jake Patterson.
While the news of her safe return was obviously a huge relief for those invested in the case, one pressing question loomed: who should get the reward money?
The dilemma was breached on social media in the days following Closs' return, with many people arguing that, as the girl had technically saved herself, she deserved the money.
Now, in an act of goodwill, a company that had put up $25,000 of the reward has announced that it will be giving the funds to Closs. Hormel Foods, the parent company of the store which employed Closs' parents, James and Denise, will be setting up a trust fund in her name.
"While we are still mourning the loss of longtime family members Jim and Denise, we are so thankful for Jayme's brave escape and that she is back in Barron," said Steve Lykken, the president of the store. "Our hope is that a trust fund can be used for Jayme's needs today and in the future."
"We are overjoyed at the news of Jayme's safe return," added Jim Snee, the president and CEO of the company. "Her bravery and strength have truly inspired our team members around the world. Barron is an incredibly strong community and one that never lost hope. We celebrated with the community, and the world, that Jayme is home."
Since her return, Closs has been brave enough to share details about what happened on the night she was taken, and how Patterson treated her while she was kept on his property in Gordon, about 70 miles from her home.
In a formal complaint, it was revealed that "Patterson made [Closs] hide under his bed in his bedroom ... When he made her hide under his bed, [Closs] stated he stacked totes and laundry bins around the bed with weights (like weights for barbells) stacked against them, so she could not move them without his being able to detect it if she did."
Patterson "would make her stay under the bed for up to twelve hours at a time with no food, water or bathroom breaks," and played music to conceal any noise she made if he had people over.
On the day of her escape, Patterson had told Closs that he would be out for around five or six hours. During this time, she managed to push the bins and weights away and get out of the house. Shortly after, she found Nutter, who helped her to safety.
Jake Patterson remains in jail on charges of intentional homicide, kidnapping, and armed burglary. He has already confessed to the murders and abduction.