“What a miracle!!!” Elizabeth Smart shared on Instagram about 13-year-old Jayme Closs, who was reunited with her family Thursday night.
Closs had been missing since October 15, when police found her mother, Denise Closs, and her father, James Closs, gunned down in their home in Barron, Wisconsin.
For nearly three months, police and volunteers searched for the missing girl. Then, on Thursday, a woman who asked that her name not be used found Jayme and took her to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinkas, who called 911, according to ABC News.
“I’m so thrilled to hear the news,” Smart posted in Instagram. “What has been such a heart-wrenching tragedy finally has some happiness in the story. I’m praying for Jayme and all her family that they can have a joyous reunion and as the rest of the country celebrates alongside this happy occasion we all are mindful to give the family their space and privacy on their road to finding a new sense of normal and moving forward.”
Smart was kidnapped at age 14 in 2002 and held captive for 9 months by Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee. During this time, she was repeatedly raped by Mitchell and often was forced to go without food or water for extended periods of time. In March 2013, a couple in Sandy, Utah, recognized Mitchell as a suspect in Smart’s disappearance and called the police.
Smart says about returning to her family, “I needed time to find my new normal because like it or not I could not go back to being the same person I was before I was kidnapped,” according to today.com.
Today, Smart is a child safety advocate and an advocate for missing children. She says, “When I look in the mirror, I also see a mother and a wife, and someone I am proud to be,” she told USA Today. “I see an advocate. I see a survivor.”
Lead image from abcnews.go.com