Jayme Closs’ family, community hold out hope 2 months after teen’s disappearance

Two months after 13-year-old Jayme Closs vanished from her Wisconsin home after her parents were shot and killed inside, family members marked the day Saturday with a plea for anyone with information to come forward. A group that included members of the community and Closs' grandfather released balloons near a 16-foot tree of hope decorated with … Continue reading “Jayme Closs’ family, community hold out hope 2 months after teen’s disappearance”

Two months after 13-year-old Jayme Closs vanished from her Wisconsin home after her parents were shot and killed inside, family members marked the day Saturday with a plea for anyone with information to come forward.

A group that included members of the community and Closs' grandfather released balloons near a 16-foot tree of hope decorated with messages such as "pray for Jayme" that was lit last week in Barron, Wis.

“I want nothing more than to get my granddaughter back to me and her family where she belongs,” Robert Naiberg, Jayme’s grandfather, told those gathered for the ceremony.

Naiberg said it’s been a terrible two months since the death of his daughter and son-in-law and agonizing to not know what happened to his granddaughter.

Community members and family of Jayme Closs hold a balloon release and make another plea for information two months after the teenager was reported missing. (FOX9)

“We need answers, but nobody seems to have any answers, so we don’t know any more than anyone else does. That’s what’s hard,” he said.

Authorities have combed through hundreds of tips since Oct. 15, when Denise and James Closs were found murdered inside their home in Barron, Wis. Police responded to the home after receiving a cryptic 911 call where dispatchers spoke to no one but heard distant voices and a loud commotion on the other end.

Four minutes later, the couple’s bodies were located and Jayme was nowhere to be seen.

JAYME CLOSS SEARCH LEADS POLICE TO ASK HUNTERS TO LOOK OUT FOR POSSIBLE CLUES FOR MISSING WISCONSIN TEEN

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told FOX9 on Saturday there are no new updates on the case. Fitzgerald has previously said he believes Jayme is alive despite the amount of time that has passed since she was reported missing.

This undated photo provided by Barron County, Wis., Sheriff’s Department, shows Jayme Closs. Authorities say that Closs, a missing teenage girl, could be in danger after two adults were found dead at a home in Barron, Wis., on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (Barron County Sheriff’s Department via AP)

A $50,000 reward is being offered to anyone with information leading to Jayme.

Jennifer Halvorson, who lives in the area, told FOX9 that emotions are still heavy in the small town as people remain hopeful that Jayme comes home alive.

“We’re definitely hopeful she’ll come back and we want to support everything we can to get her back,” she said. “When something happens to one person around here, it happens to everybody.”

Fox News' Katherine Lam and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed

Man posed as doctor, gave meds to unsuspecting patients, authorities say

A Wisconsin man posed as a doctor and gave medication to a handful of unsuspecting patients, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Kyle Larsen, 32, of Appleton, operated Medical Psychology of Wisconsin and met with people with mental health diagnoses, including one patient with schizophrenia, the Appleton Post-Crescent reported.

"He treated a number of different patients, according to the allegations in the criminal complaint, including giving someone what was reportedly a flu shot but unknown what was ultimately injected," said Outagamie County District Attorney Melinda Tempelis at a Wednesday court hearing.

Larsen told investigators he was a licensed practical nurse but had been fired for theft, the paper reported. He said eventually wanted to bring on a real doctor on board.

"He stated he had a hard time getting started, which led him to do stupid things," the complaint states.

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Larsen faces six counts of theft through false representation, delivery of a prescription drug, distribution of a controlled substance, maintaining a drug trafficking place, four counts of practicing medicine or surgery without a license, three counts of practicing pharmacy without a license, and two counts of unlicensed practice of psychology.

Calling Larsen's alleged actions a "prescription for disaster," Outagamie County Court Commissioner Brian Figy ordered him held on a $200,000 bond.

According to the complaint, Larsen told various patients he was a doctor and prescribed patients Ritalin and other drugs. He told one woman with schizophrenia that he was a doctor of neuropsychology and pain management and gave her medications, which she never took, the complaint said.

Another patient who sought help for depression said she paid Larsen about $1,000 for treatment in October and November. Larsen also prescribed amoxicillin to one patient seeking treatment for a tick bite.

That patient took all of the medication.

It was not clear if any of the patients experienced sickness from the medications allegedly prescribed by Larsen.

Larsen said he never charged for the medicine he gave out, according to the paper. He added that the medicine had belonged to him, but that he had put it in different bottles and labeled them.

His next court appearance was set for Dec. 12.

Wisconsin protesters drown out Christmas tree-lighting ceremony challenging lame-duck session

Demonstrators booed outgoing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, drowning out a high school choir with their own songs in protest of a Republican effort to gut the powers of Walker's Democratic successor.

The governor, wearing a Santa tie, appeared unfazed as he flipped the switch while one protester shouted "Hey Walker! Go home!" He left without taking questions from reporters about the bills being considered by the rare lame-duck legislative session. Walker, who has signaled support for the measures, later tweeted that he "can handle the shouts," but he urged protesters to "leave the kids alone."

Democrats have derided the lame-duck lawmaking as a cynical attempt to preserve power after Walker's re-election loss last month.

"If he wanted to put a stop to this, he could," said Russ Hahn, a 53-year-old attorney holding a sign that said "GOP Grinch Steals Democracy."

The fact that Walker was making no attempt to halt the effort "clearly indicates he wants to be able to control things outside the governor's office for the next four or eight years," Hahn said.

Bob Kinosian, from Wauwatosa, Wis., holding up a sign during the state Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.

Later Tuesday, the public was ordered removed from Senate galleries after repeated warnings to be quiet. Spectators shouted "Shame!" and hurled complaints at senators, temporarily halting debate, as they walked out under police escort. Less than an hour later, Republicans said they would let people back in.

Walker burst onto the national political scene in 2011 with an aggressive anti-union agenda. Many of the same protesters who confronted him then returned to the Capitol on Tuesday — albeit in far fewer numbers. Protests reached 100,000 in 2011, but only a few dozen were on hand Tuesday.

Democrats vowed to do all they could to stop the measures, which would weaken both Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul.

Some hinted at filibusters or legal challenges and called the lame-duck session "illegitimate." Former Democratic attorney general and Gov. Jim Doyle said the moves were unconstitutional.

Never in Wisconsin history "has an extraordinary session been used to deny the will of the people and take away powers from the newly elected governor and newly elected attorney general," Democratic Rep. Chris Taylor said.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers met behind closed doors ahead of separate Assembly and Senate votes to send the bills to Walker.

A GOP-controlled committee approved the measures late Monday after a nine-hour public hearing where only one person testified in support of one provision. The panel rejected a proposal to move the 2020 presidential primary date from April to March amid nearly unanimous opposition from the state's local election clerks.

"The people aren't asking for this," Taylor said during the hearing. "You did not run on this. You didn't tell people you would do everything in your power to take away the power of a newly elected governor and attorney general. You rig the system when you win, and you rig the system when you lose."

Republican Rep. John Nygren, co-chairman of the committee, downplayed the proposals and said the goal was to establish balance in power between the Legislature and governor. Nygren said it was a positive step that would "bring us together to solve the problems of the state."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, left, with the help of the Mary and Don Miller family from Plainfield, Wis., flipped the switch to light the state Christmas Tree in the Capitol Rotunda in Madison.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told reporters Tuesday that his constituents want him to protect everything the GOP has accomplished over the last eight years under Walker. The legislation, he said, ensures that Evers will have to negotiate with lawmakers and cannot unilaterally erase Republican ideas.

"We do not believe any one individual should have the opportunity to come in and with a stroke of the pen … eliminate laws passed by our Legislature," Vos said, citing rules enacting voter photo ID, a key GOP initiative during Walker's two terms.

The protests this year paled in comparison to 2011, when tens of thousands of people descended on the Capitol to oppose Walker's anti-union agenda for weeks. Senate Democrats fled to Illinois, and Assembly Democrats filibustered for 60 straight hours in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Walker's changes.

Republicans were poised Tuesday to complete their work much more quickly, even as Democratic Minority Leader Gordon Hintz refused to agree on time limits for debate. Assembly Republicans said they would vote in their chamber by midnight.

Evers called the unusual lame-duck session "rancor and politics as usual." The last lame-duck session in Wisconsin was in 2010, when Democrats tried unsuccessfully to enact labor agreements.

The sweeping measures to bolster Republican legislative power come after North Carolina took similar steps two years ago. Michigan Republicans are also discussing taking action before a Democratic governor takes over there.

The proposals in Wisconsin would weaken the governor's ability to put in place rules that enact laws and shield the state jobs agency from his control. Republicans also want to limit early voting to no more than two weeks before an election.

Other measures would weaken the attorney general's office by allowing Republican legislative leaders to intervene in cases and hire their own attorneys. A legislative committee, rather than the attorney general, would have to sign off on withdrawing from federal lawsuits.

That would stop Evers and Kaul from fulfilling their campaign promises to withdraw Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit seeking repeal of the Affordable Care Act. They made opposition to that lawsuit a central part of both of their campaigns.

If many of the changes are challenged in court, opponents have said, the process could create even more gridlock in state government next year.

Green Bay Packers drop head coach Mike McCarthy after third straight loss

The Green Bay Packers announced Sunday that they had fired head coach Mike McCarthy, hours after the team lost at home to the Arizona Cardinals.

“The 2018 season has not lived up to the expectations and standards of the Green Bay Packers," team president and CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. "As a result, I made the difficult decision to relieve Mike McCarthy of his role as head coach, effective immediately."

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was named the Packers interim head coach. Murphy said the process of hiring the storied franchise's next head coach would begin immediately.

Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Cardinals — who entered the game with a 2-9 record — dropped the Packers to 4-7-1 and dealt a crippling blow to the team's chances of making the playoffs. It was the first time Green Bay had lost to the Cardinals at home since 1949, when the Cardinals franchise was based in Chicago.

McCarthy was in his 13th season as Green Bay head coach, making him the third-longest tenured coach in the league at the time of his dismissal — trailing only Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.

During his tenure, the Packers won their fourth Super Bowl championship following the 2010 season. But recent years had seen the team undergo extended struggles and an increasing reliance on star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, with whom McCarthy seemed to have a strained relationship.

In 2016, the Packers started 4-6 but won eight straight games to get to the NFC title game, losing to the Atlanta Falcons. Green Bay finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs in 2017, when Rodgers missed extensive time with a broken collarbone.

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McCarthy shook up his coaching staff, including bringing Philbin back as offensive coordinator and hiring Mike Pettine to replace Dom Capers as defensive coordinator. Different problems emerged.

This year, Rodgers hurt his left knee in the season opener, though he is feeling better now. Receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison have missed time with injuries. The same issues kept popping up for the offense, most glaringly, empty third downs and a lack of explosive plays.

Rodgers was asked after the game — but before McCarthy's firing was announced — how much blame offensive players should get if the Packers made a coaching change after the season.

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"Yeah, a lot probably. We haven't played very well," Rodgers said. "We all take part in the disappointments and the failures that we've had this season. We've had a number of opportunities. It's not like we're getting blown out in a bunch of games. We're in games."

McCarthy recorded a 125-77-2 regular season record with the Packers and went 10-8 in the postseason. The Packers made the playoffs in nine of his 12 full seasons, including eight consecutive seasons between 2009 and 2016.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Students photographed appearing to give Nazi salute protected by free-speech, Wisconsin school district says

Officials with a Wisconsin school district have admitted free-speech rights would make it difficult to discipline the high school students who appeared to be delivering Nazi salutes in a photo.

The controversial image that went viral earlier this month was taken last spring outside the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The image was posted on a Twitter account earlier this month, making the rounds across the internet.

PHOTOGRAPHER SAYS HE TOLD STUDENTS TO ‘WAVE GOODBYE’ IN CONTROVERSIAL PHOTO: REPORT

The image, which included about 60 boys, drew widespread condemnation because of the appearance that some of the students are giving a Nazi salute.

Peter Gust, the photographer who took the picture, said the image was “taken out of context” and was as “innocent as boys and girls going to prom.” He said he told the boys to “wave goodbye” before heading off to their prom.

A group of Wisconsin high school boys stand on the steps outside the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo, Wisconsin. (Peter Gust via AP)

The photo received condemnation from social media users and even caught the attention of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum which blasted the students and district over the image.

“If @barabooSD wishes to know more about what can be the extreme result of normalization of hatred…please see some online lessons dedicated to the history of Auschwitz,” the museum tweeted.

BARABOO SCHOOL DISTRICT WEIGHING LEGAL ACTION AFTER STUDENTS PURPORTEDLY PHOTOGRAPHED DOING NAZI SALUTE

The school district said it would investigate the incident and what led to the students making the gesture. The State Journal reported that Baraboo Superintendent Lori Mueller said in a letter to parents Wednesday that officials cannot know the “intentions in the hearts” of those involved.

She also said the district isn’t in a position to punish the students because they are protected by the First Amendment. Her letter said part of the district’s investigation was completed.

Fox News’ Amy Lieu and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kathleen Joyce is a breaking/trending news producer for FoxNews.com. You can follow her at @Kathleen_Joyce8 on Twitter.