Parents of Missing Wisconsin Teen Fatally Shot, Deaths Ruled a Homicide: Sheriff

No gun was found at the scene and authorities believe 13-year-old Jayme Closs was in the home at the time of her parents' deaths, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said

The parents of a missing Wisconsin teenager, who were found dead in their home, were killed by gunshots and their deaths ruled a homicide, autopsies showed Wednesday. 

No gun was found at the scene and authorities believe 13-year-old Jayme Closs was in the home at the time of her parents' deaths, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said during a Wednesday news conference.

Closs has been missing since deputies responding to a 911 call found her parents, James and Denise Closs, dead in their home in Barron,  a rural western Wisconsin community about 80 miles northeast of Minneapolis. Authorities have said Jayme isn't a runaway and investigators believe she's in danger, Fitzgerald said Tuesday. 

The 911 call came from a cellphone inside the home, but the caller didn't communicate with the dispatcher.

"There was no one on site, no vehicles in the immediate area when our deputies arrived on scene," he said. 

Fitzgerald said he "100 percent" believes Jayme is still alive, but noted there have been no credible sightings of the teen since her disappearance. 

Jayme was last seen at a family gathering Sunday afternoon, said Fitzgerald, who said Monday that investigators don't consider her a suspect in her parents' deaths. On Tuesday, he declined to elaborate as to why investigators believe Jayme is not a runaway, saying that disclosing more information would compromise their investigation. 

"I'm telling you, Jayme is missing and endangered," Fitzgerald said. 

Her grandfather, Robert Naiberg, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that nothing seemed amiss at the gathering, which was to celebrate the birthday of a grandson who is cousins with Jayme.

"She was quiet as always. She was a quiet girl," he said.

Naiberg, 72, said his daughter, Denise Closs, and Jayme attended the party, and that his son-in-law, James Closs, was working and couldn't make it. He described his daughter as a "thoughtful person" who brought "a little gift for everybody" at the party.

A girl resembling Jayme was spotted at a gas station in south Florida on Monday afternoon, according to a tip Miami police say they received. Fitzgerald said authorities looked into the tip, but by Tuesday afternoon, they concluded the information was not credible. He said Miami police did not check with Wisconsin authorities before tweeting information about the tip and reminded the public that updates would come from the sheriff's department.

"If we think it's key to the case where we need the public's help, we will disseminate that information," he said. 

Miami is about 1,700 miles south of Barron. 

Jayme is described as 5-feet (1.5 meters) tall and 100 pounds (45 kilograms), with strawberry-blond hair and green eyes. 

The FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are helping in the search. An Amber Alert was issued without a description of a suspect or vehicle.

Fitzgerald urged the public to come forward with tips by calling (855) 744-3879. As of the 3 p.m. Wednesday, Fitzgerald said the department has received more than 400 tips and is following up on them.  

"Check your cabins, walk your land and report anything you think is important to us," Fitzgerald said. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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