Kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart is scheduled to speak in northwestern Wisconsin next week to help the region cope with a high-profile double homicide-kidnapping.
Prosecutors have accused 21-year-old Jake Patterson of breaking into 13-year-old Jayme Closs’ home just outside Barron in October, killing her parents with a shotgun and abducting her. They say he held her in a cabin for three months before she escaped in January.
Smart was 14 when she was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. The Barron County Sheriff’s Department posted on Facebook on Wednesday saying Smart will speak at the Barron Area Community Center on March 15.
Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in a telephone interview Wednesday that the appearance is free and open to the public. He said no one is paying Smart to appear. He said he and Smart have been communicating and she’s been following Jayme’s case. They both agreed she should visit Barron, he said.
The sheriff declined to say whether Jayme would attend or whether Smart will meet with her, saying he will never comment on Jayme’s movements.
Smart will focus on her own experiences and how her community moved past her kidnapping but won’t discuss Jayme’s abduction, Fitzgerald said.
Patterson’s court case is still pending and any comments Smart makes about Jayme could be used in the proceedings.
Smart told The Associated Press in January that Jayme will struggle to regain a sense of normalcy.