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Jayme Closs, the Wisconsin teenager who was kidnapped and held captive for nearly three months by her parents' murderer, said Monday that she is reclaiming what she can of her former life after the traumatic experience.
"I really want to thank everyone for all the kindness and concern that people all over the country have shown me," Jayme said in a statement read at a news conference Monday to mark one year since her parents were killed and she was taken.
"I am very happy to be home and getting back to the activities that I enjoy. I love hanging out with all of my friends, and I feel stronger every day!" the statement said.
"It's entirely accurate — everyone around her sees her getting stronger every day," Chris Gramstrup, her attorney who read the statement, added. "Today is a day to remember her parents."
Jayme's parents, James Closs, 56, and his wife Denise, 46, were shot to death on Oct. 15, 2018, at their home in the small city of Barron. Jayme was nowhere to be found.
She was not seen again until Jan. 10, when she escaped her captor and emerged through woods to the shock of a Douglas County resident, who first discovered her about 70 miles from her home.
Jake Patterson, who decided to kidnap Jayme after seeing her at a bus stop, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. He was sentenced in May to life in prison.
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Patterson had forced Jayme to live under a bed, which he barricaded with storage boxes and other weights, before she managed to escape. At his sentencing, a statement from Jayme said she was able to eventually free herself because "I was smarter."
"I will always have my freedom, and he will not," the statement said.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald on Monday said Jayme has "taught us the meaning of courage, resilience and hope." Her case was the longest-running Amber Alert in Wisconsin history, he added.
Fitzgerald also thanked the community, who "came together unlike anything I've ever seen," to search for Jayme, and other agencies who "spent 88 days never giving up."
Gramstrup said Monday that Jayme, now 14, enjoyed a busy summer of trips and family celebrations.
"The most enjoyable time Jayme had is getting back into routine and really spending time with friends. She's a social young woman and really enjoys connecting and being with her good friends."
Jayme "continues to work hard on her emotional well-being," Gramstrup added. "Often, it's Jayme that's inspiring us."