(BARRON, Wis.) — Kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart is set to speak to residents of the Wisconsin town where 13-year-old Jayme Closs lived and was recently abducted.
Smart’s appearance comes after Closs fled to safety after spending months as a captive.
Some of Jayme’s relatives are expected to attend Friday night’s free event at the high school gym in Barron, the town’s county sheriff, Chris Fitzgerald, told ABC News Friday morning.
Smart, 31, is expected to share her own story and discuss ways the Barron community can move forward, including how to talk to children about this kind of traumatic event and what neighbors should say to Jayme and her family, the sheriff said.
“We’re very honored to have her here,” Fitzgerald said.
The rural community of Barron found itself the center of a kidnapping saga when Jake Patterson, 21, allegedly gunned down Closs’ parents then abducted the 13-year-old from her home on Oct. 15.
Patterson told investigators that, after the killings, he fled with the girl to his house in Gordon, Wisconsin. He allegedly created a space for Closs under his bed, and when he’d leave the house, he’d put barbells and free weights around the bed so she couldn’t escape, according to a criminal complaint.
On Jan. 10, when Patterson left the house, Closs fled, according to court documents.
Patterson was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, kidnapping and armed burglary. He is scheduled to be arraigned on March 27.
Smart is a kidnapping survivor herself. She was 14 in 2002 when she was abducted from her Salt Lake City home and held as a prisoner by Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee.
Smart was rescued in 2003.
Barzee was released from prison in 2018 while Mitchell is serving a life sentence.
Smart went on to become a national child safety advocate and is a married mother of three children.
After Closs’ miraculous escape, Smart wrote, “I hope we may all continue to support and embrace Jayme as she reclaims her life and comes to terms with the reality of her situation. What a brave, strong, and powerful survivor!!!!”
“No matter what may unfold in her story let’s all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED and whatever other details may surface the most important will still remain that she is alive,” she wrote. “May god bless you Jayme Closs and may we all continue to search for every missing child.”
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