Nation & World

Closs' escape from captor provides hope for other families

Jayme Closs. (FBI/TNS)
Jayme Closs. (FBI/TNS)

When an abducted 13-year-old girl escaped to safety in northwest Wisconsin, relatives of other missing people expressed relief for Jayme Closs and her family.

And while Jayme’s story can provide hope, it’s also bittersweet for people who have been searching for answers for years.

“I’m happy to hear that Jayme is found alive and well, I’m happy for that,” said Koua Lee, the brother of Hang Lee, who disappeared from St. Paul in 1993 when she was 17 and never has been found. “I also have to concentrate on my own sister, and it hurts that we don’t have closure.”

Roseanna Marie Forcum last was seen in St. Paul in 1998 when she was 15. Her father still marks her birthday Dec. 3 each year. Last month he got a cake that read: “Happy Birthday Rose” for her 36th birthday.

“There’s always hope for Rosie, I never give up,” John Daniel said Friday.

But Lee and Daniel also express frustration with the investigations into the disappearances of their loved ones.

In Jayme’s case, law enforcement received more than 3,500 tips, but the town of Gordon, Wis. — where the teen was found and a 21-year-old man was arrested Thursday — was not on their radar, according to the Barron County, Wis., sheriff.

“In cases like this, we often need a big break and it was Jayme herself who gave us that break” when she was able to escape from the home where she was being held, said R. Justin Tolomeo, FBI special agent in charge of the Milwaukee division.

Gone for an interview, no return

Hang Lee was a Highland Park High School senior when she left her family’s St. Paul apartment for the last time in January 1993. She told her brother she was going to a job interview with a friend’s boss, later identified as a convicted sex offender. While dubbed a person of interest in Lee’s disappearance, he never has been arrested or charged.

St. Paul police say they have asked the public for information on a regular basis.

Koua Lee and his family have been trying to raise money for a reward.

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“I hope someone finds it in their heart to do something about it and come forward,” he said Friday.

Two women vanished after St. Paul party

Roseanna Forcum and her friend, 21-year-old April Nicole Geyer, disappeared after attending a party in St. Paul in mid-August 1998.

In 2000, an informant told St. Paul police that the young women were strangled. He said he and the killer took the bodies to farmland outside Wadena, in west-central Minnesota, and buried them.

The area has been searched, including with cadaver-sniffing dogs, but Forcum and Geyer weren’t found.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and police in St. Cloud — Forcum’s hometown — have asked anyone with information to come forward, even if the information is provided anonymously.

Hope for relatives of other missing people

The discovery Thursday of Jayme “does provide hope for those who are still looking,” said Alison Feigh, director of the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center. “These are days to celebrate.”

When a missing person is found safe, families of other missing individuals often reach out to the Wetterling Resource Center.

“When you’re trying to find pieces of a puzzle, you’re always looking for information and they may want to know, ‘What worked in this case? Is there any part that will work in my family’s case?’ ” Feigh said.

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