LADYSMITH, Wis. (KARE) -- Jayme Closs' family shares grief one month later
The passage of time has made it a little easier to talk about. And the siblings of Jim Closs, who was murdered in his home with his wife Denise on Oct. 15, are giving their first interview to NBC affilate KARE 11 since the incident.
"Whoever did this cannot get away with it. They can't," said Kelly Engelhardt of Ladysmith, Wisconsin.
Jeff Closs and Kelly Engelhardt were devastated by the loss of their oldest brother Jim and sister-in-law Denise. And they are unable to move forward because their niece, Jayme, is still missing.
"We're trying to grieve our brother and sister-in-law. But then when you grieve, you feel guilty, because you're grieving. Because we still have a niece we want to come home," Engelhardt said.
The siblings say Jim was a hard-working, die-hard Packers and Badgers fan who loved recounting his own Ladysmith High School glory days at family gatherings.
Denise, they say, was a sweetheart. And Jayme, her little follower.
When they learned what happened, Jim's siblings' minds raced, trying to grasp what could have led to such an unthinkable crime.
"My first instinct was it has to be somebody who knew him from work. Because that's where he spent 60, 70, 80 hours a week at," Engelhardt said, adding Jim was not heavily involved in the community and did not come into contact with a lot of people outside of work.
They also wondered whether Jim had gotten into trouble somehow, such as racking up debt.
"I don’t know if he would have said anything to me if he was in trouble. I think he would have. He would have confided in my mother and said, 'I need help,'" Jeff Closs said.
But as the investigation progressed, no evidence of an enemy at work or trouble with money surfaced.
And a question lingered, if someone wanted to kill Jim, why would they also kill Denise and take Jayme?
"That's why our gut feeling is, they wanted Jayme," Engelhardt said.
But if that was the motive, the question remains, why murder two people in the middle of the night? Especially when there would have been plenty of opportunities to snatch Jayme when she was home alone.
"It seems to me they went to quite the extreme," Jeff Closs said.
So the mystery persists.
Jeff and Kelly say speculation and accusations by strangers on social media have been especially hard on the family. They believe much of it was brought on simply because they chose not to do interviews with reporters in the immediate weeks following the murders and kidnapping, while they tried to grieve and grasp what was happening.
Concerning speculation that Jayme may have met a boyfriend online who was willing to go to extremes to be with her, Engelhardt doesn't believe it.
"You would have to show me proof because I would not believe it. There are 13-year-old girls who have personalities that would be out there and putting themselves out there. Jayme does not have that personality," she said.
And concerning speculation, Jayme was an active participant in her kidnapping and/or her parent's murder?
"I know she had nothing to do with it. She is a person who was taken. This wasn't willing. This is nothing she's a part of. Not that we know this, but we know her," Engelhardt said.
And they also know dealing with their brother and sister-in-law's murder can only be made easier if Jayme comes home alive.
"It's shocking. It's devastating. But we'll have hope and we'll get through it and hopefully she comes home and everybody will be good. It's all we can do," Engelhardt said.