Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old who went missing after her parents were killed last October, is now home with her family. She managed to escape on Thursday with the help from a woman walking her dog.
Closs' family members never gave up hope that she would be found, but like the rest of the country, they are still in shock. Only on "CBS This Morning," Closs' cousin Lindsey Smith and two of her aunts, Sue Allard and Lynn Closs, told "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King how they are helping the 13-year-old heal by giving her all the love she needs. They also told us about what it's like to finally have her home.
"I have to pinch myself," Allard said. "I woke up this morning and finally, I didn't have that pit in the bottom of my stomach any more."
"It's such an overwhelming, amazing happy ending to such a horrible beginning," Lynn said.
"I still feel a little in shock. I just want to go over there, every day to my mom's house and see Jayme. It's amazing to see her home," Smith said. Smith's mother is Closs' legal guardian now.
"My new little sister," Smith said. "I actually told my mom, my mom is through all this –"
"She can't quit smiling," Lynn said.
"No, and my mom, her heart has been just broken since Jayme was gone," Smith said. "And now I told her, I said, 'I get my mom back. You are happy again. You are -- It's just the best thing I've ever seen.'"
Asked how Closs is doing, Allard said right now, they're surrounding Closs with love.
"Making sure she's safe. She feels safe. She's doing pretty well. I spent the afternoon there yesterday. We had her smiling, laughing. Going through things in her room," Allard said.
Jake Thomas Patterson is accused of kidnapping Closs and murdering her parents at their home. Authorities say he had no apparent connection to the family before the killings. He is scheduled for his first court appearance Monday in northern Wisconsin.
"How will you go about getting the answers to all of the questions that so many people have, and yourself included?" King asked.
"In due time," Allard responded. "We have to take little steps. Jayme, when she's ready to talk, she will."
Allard said nobody in the family is asking her, "What happened?"
"You just want to know, but no, they're saying just let it come out. If she wants to be happy, let her be happy. If she wants to be sad, let her be sad. She wants to be silly, let her be silly," Lynn added. "We gotta let her call the shots right now."
"Tell us how you each heard the news that she was okay," King said.
"My dad had to call my neighbor. And she comes screamin' in my door. I'll never, ever forget her screaming, 'Sue! Sue! They found Jayme!'" Allard said, tearing up.
"Are you all surprised by the strength? Because we keep hearing her described as shy and quiet," King said. All three responded they were.
"The thing I wanted to express to her immediately, and we all do, is the pride we have in her for doing this. For getting out. For making it. For the power that she has," Lynn said. "You know, I mean, that she took the power away from this man. That she did this. I mean it's just incredible. I mean the strength that this little girl has, and the pride that we have in her for it, I mean that's instantly what I thought."
"I think there was the power of God behind it. All these people in this whole nation, the prayers that were said," Allard said.
"There are grown people I think that would have been paralyzed in fear," King said.
"In fear, yes," Lynn said. "We don't know what she went through. But to survive it and to get out of it, and to beat him at his own game, and to survive and get outta there, I mean – wow!"
Now that Closs is safe with her loved ones, the family said they can all begin the process of grieving for Closs' parents, James and Denise.
"We have back-burnered their deaths, is kind of how I've done it in my head," Lynn said.
"Kind of had to, yeah," Smith said.
"Yeah. It's like they were murdered, and it was shocking and horrible and hideous. And – but we had this little girl that we couldn't find," Lynn said. "We kinda said, 'Okay, as horrible as that is, we gotta put it here, and we gotta find her. And we're gonna get her.' And I think that's partly why we didn't quit looking for her, because for them too. It was like, 'We will find her.'"
"There's a lot of—a lot of questions," Allard said. "The big question is where did he pick her out from to target? Was it from a picture? Did he see her somewhere in public?"
"Yeah, how did you choose her and—" Lynn said.
"Why?" Allard said.
"Was she your obsession? Where did this come from?" Lynn said.
"And the other thing that's so troubling is that he had no connection to the family," King said. "And I'm sure you all have racked your brains about it. Did anybody know this guy?"
"Yeah. Yeah. There's nothing," Allard said.
The family plans to go to court Monday to face Patterson. Asked why they want to be there, Allard said, "Justice for Denise and Jim. Justice."
"And for Jayme," Smith said.
"We'll make sure. I will be at every one," Allard said.
"What will you think when you see him for the first time?" King asked.
"I'm sure anger. Disgust," Lynn said. "I want him to know that he messed with us as a unit, and that good wins. And that is not him."
Smith works in the jail where Patterson is being held. Asked whether she's seen him, Smith said no.
"I have talked to the sheriff, my jail captain, and they're doing what they can. And I will not deal with him. I can't," Smith said.
Among the outpouring of support that the family's received, Allard said someone wanted to make a quilt for Closs from her parents' clothing, and Lynn said hairdressers have offered to clear out their salons to pamper Closs.
"I mean people are just giving and giving and giving. It's just incredible," Lynn said.