BARRON, Wis. – Jennie-O Turkey Store and parent company Hormel Foods announced Wednesday, Jan. 23, that the $25,000 in reward money offered for information in the disappearance of 13-year-old Jayme Closs will be donated directly to her.
Earlier this month, Closs escaped her alleged captor and was reunited with members of her extended family. She had been missing for nearly three months since the day her parents, James and Denise Closs, were found shot to death in their home.
They both worked for Jennie-O in Barron for 25 years.
During a company event Wednesday, Hormel Foods announced that it is working with law enforcement officials to move forward with its plans to donate the $25,000 reward contribution directly to Jayme Closs.
“On behalf of the entire Jennie-O and Hormel Foods family, we are overjoyed at the news of Jayme’s safe return,” said Jim Snee, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer at Hormel Foods, in a news release. “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.”
In Willmar, Minn., where Jennie-O Turkey Store’s corporate headquarters are located, a “Tree of Hope” was lit in blue and green lights on the company campus. A lighting ceremony was held just weeks before her escape, an event “intended as a forum for employees and community members to send a unified message that no one would give up hope until Jayme was safely back home,” the companies stated in the news release.
“First and foremost, Jennie-O Turkey Store is a family,” said Steve Lykken, Jennie-O Turkey Store president, in the release. “Here in Barron our Jennie-O family is dealing with a very tragic situation. 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. The company has expressed its wishes to donate the $25,000 to Jayme. Our hope is that a trust fund can be used for Jayme’s needs today and in the future.”
Chris Fitzgerald, Barron County Sheriff, thanked Jennie-O for its support.
“We also agree that Jayme is the hero in this case and are happy they have chosen her to receive the company’s reward contribution. The partnerships created during this case will not only help Jayme and her family in the future but will continue to make us all stronger, led by the idea that we will never give up hope!”
A 21-year-old suspect has been charged with kidnapping and homicide.