Elizabeth Smart, herself a victim of a much-publicized kidnapping, spoke on Friday night to the residents of Barron, Wisconsin, the town that is still reeling from the abduction of 13-year-old Jayme Closs and the murder of her parents.
As Yahoo News reports, Smart, 31, now a public speaker and child-safety advocate, came to the Wisconsin town to share her story of her own ordeal, and to tell the residents, still suffering from open wounds from Jayme’s kidnapping, that life does go on.
Closs was kidnapped from her family home in Barron in the early morning hours of Monday, October 15, 2018. An assailant, later identified as Jake Thomas Patterson, killed Closs’s parents and then abducted her. Patterson allegedly held Closs captive in his home for 88 days, before she was able to escape. Meanwhile, townsfolk searched far and wide for her, never giving up hope.
Smart knows a thing or two about kidnapping; back in 2002, she was herself kidnapped, and held as a sex slave by a man who considered himself a prophet and claimed to be taking Smart on as another wife.
“This man planned on keeping me. Days? Weeks? Months? Years? What if it was so long that I forgot my name? What if it was so long that I forgot who I truly was? That thought terrified me. I never wanted to forgot who I was…where I came from…my family.”
Elizabeth Smart said 13-year-old Jayme Closs "is a survivor." https://t.co/HxH3Gl8A0y— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) March 16, 2019
Like Jayme, Elizabeth was eventually able to escape her captor, although in her case it was after nine months of captivity.
She told the people of Barron that their hard work in trying to find Jayme and help her piece her life back together is inspiring.
“I have been so inspired the last few days…and I find it inspiring to see so many of you here tonight in support of Jayme and in moving forward and in reclaiming all of your lives because this has touched so many people.”
Unlike Smart, Closs is not believed to have been victimized sexually by her abductor; as of this writing, he has not been charged with any sexual crimes.
"This was mostly on impulse," said the man police say confessed to abducting 13-year-old Jayme Closs.https://t.co/uIlr8QLymb— Law News (@LawNewz) March 8, 2019
In a letter he wrote from prison, parts of which are made available via USA Today, Patterson said that he killed Jayme’s parents and abducted her “on impulse” and that his motives are “complicated.”
“At the time I was really pissed. I didn’t ‘want’ to…. The reason I did this is complicated.”
Patterson also said that he intends to plead guilty when he makes a court appearance on March 27.