Wisconsin man arrested in teen's abduction, parents' deaths

January 11, 2018

This photo provided by the Barron County Sheriff's Department in Barron, Wis., shows Jake Thomas Patterson, of the Town of Gordon, Wis., who has been jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges in the October killing of a Wisconsin couple and abduction of their teen daughter, Jayme Closs. Closs was found alive Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in the Town of Gordon.

BARRON, Wis. The Latest on a Wisconsin teenager who was found alive three months after disappearing following her parents' deaths (all times local):

4:10 p.m.

Authorities in Wisconsin say they believe the man suspected of abducting 13-year-old Jayme Closs was out looking for her when he was arrested.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Friday that 21-year-old Jake Patterson wasn't at home when Jayme escaped Thursday afternoon.

Deputies arrested Patterson in his vehicle soon after Jayme turned up on a neighbor's doorstep near Gordon. He's also suspected of killing Jayme's parents in an October attack at the family's home near Barron, which is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Gordon.

Fitzgerald says investigators don't believe there was any social media connection between Patterson and Jayme. He says investigators are trying to determine how he "became aware" of the girl.


2:50 p.m.

Elizabeth Smart says that finding a 13-year-old Wisconsin girl who had been missing for three months is "why we can never give up hope on any missing child."

Smart was 14 when she was abducted from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. She was rescued nine months later.

Jayme Closs disappeared in October after her parents were killed inside their home in Barron. Authorities say she managed to escape Thursday from a home about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south and they arrested a 21-year-old man on homicide and kidnapping charges.

Smart told The Associated Press by phone Friday that she would expect that Jayme will have to confront the fact that there "is no going back to the way things were." She recommends that Jayme's friends and family give her space and allow her to make her own decisions.


2:10 p.m.

Ownership of a remote cabin where a Wisconsin teenager was apparently held during a nearly 3-month disappearance passed to a credit union soon after the girl's abduction.

Records show that defendant Jake Thomas Patterson's father transferred the title of the cabin near Gordon to Superior Choice Credit Union on Oct. 23, eight days after the Oct. 15 attack at the Closs family's home near Barron, which is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Gordon. It was appraised at $79,300.

The circumstances of the transfer weren't clear. The credit union didn't immediately return calls seeking comment Friday and The Associated Press couldn't find a working phone listing for Patterson's father, Patrick Patterson.

Jake Patterson was arrested Thursday after authorities say 13-year-old Jayme Closs managed to escape from the cabin and approach a neighbor, who sought help. Authorities believe he killed Jayme's parents to abduct her. He is jailed on homicide and kidnapping charges. Jail records don't list an attorney for him.

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1:45 p.m.

The company that employed the slain parents of a Wisconsin teen who was kidnapped says the man accused in the attack worked at the plant for one day nearly three years ago.

Steve Lykken, president of the Jennie-O Turkey Store in Barren, issued a statement Friday saying 21-year-old Jake Patterson was hired one day but quit the next, explaining that he was moving away from the area.

An obituary for James and Denise Closs says they worked at the turkey processing plant for 27 years.

Lykken says the company and the Hormel Foods family are "overjoyed at the news of Jayme's safe return."

Authorities say Jayme escaped from a cabin in the town of Gordon on Thursday and they arrested Patterson on homicide and kidnapping charges.


Kristin Kasinskas, who lives on S. Eau Claire Acres Circle with her husband, Peter, speak with the media Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Gordon, Wis. Kristin Kasinskas called 911 on Thursday, to report that Jayme Closs, 13, had been found after another neighbor out walking her dog encountered her and brought her to Kasinskas' house.

BARRON, Wis.  A 21-year-old man killed a Wisconsin couple in a baffling scheme to kidnap their teenage daughter, then held the girl captive for three months before she narrowly managed to escape and reach safety as he drove around looking for her, authorities said.

Jayme Closs, 13, was skinny, disheveled and wearing shoes too big for her when she approached a stranger and pleaded for help Thursday near the small, isolated north woods town of Gordon, where police said she was being held by Jake Thomas Patterson.

Within minutes, Patterson was pulled over and jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges for what authorities said was his meticulously planned shotgun attack at the girl's home in October.

The news that Jayme was safe set off joy and relief 60 miles (96 kilometers) away in her hometown of Barron, population 3,300, ending an all-out search that gripped the state, with many people fearing the worst the longer she was missing.

"My legs started to shake. It was awesome. The stress, the relief it was awesome," Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said, describing the moment he learned Jayme had been found.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald speaks during a news conference,
Friday, Jan. 11, 2018, in Barron, Wis.

Jayme told one of the neighbors in Gordon who took her in that she had walked away from a cabin where she had been held captive.

"She said that this person's name was Jake Patterson, 'he killed my parents and took me,'" said another neighbor, Kristin Kasinskas. "She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him."

The sheriff said investigators are trying to figure out what happened to Jayme during her captivity and why she was seized, and gave no details on how she escaped except to say Patterson was not home at the time. He said there is no evidence Patterson knew Jayme or her family or had been in contact with her on social media.

"I know all of you are searching for the answer why any of this happened," Fitzgerald said. "Believe me, so are we."

The sheriff said that he did not know if Jayme had been physically abused but that she was hospitalized overnight for observation and released. Investigators were still interviewing her, and she was "doing as well as circumstances allow," he said.

Kasinskas called 911 to report the girl had been found after another neighbor out walking her dog encountered Jayme and brought her to Kasinskas' house. Patterson was apparently out looking for her when he was stopped by a sheriff's deputy based on a description of his vehicle from Jayme, authorities said.

He was scheduled for an initial court appearance Monday. It was not immediately known whether the unemployed Patterson had an attorney.

Jayme's grandfather, Robert Naiberg, said he had been praying for months for the call he received about his granddaughter.

"I thought, 'Good for her she escaped,'" he said.

Jayme disappeared from her home near Barron after someone blasted his way in and shot her parents, James and Denise Closs, on Oct. 15. The sheriff said investigators believe Patterson killed them in order to abduct the girl.

Patterson took such measures as shaving his head beforehand to avoid leaving evidence at the scene, the sheriff said. A shotgun similar to the one used was recovered from the home where Jayme was believed held, according to Fitzgerald.

Property records show that the cabin belonged to Patterson's father at the time of Jayme's disappearance.

Patterson worked for one day in 2016 at the same Jennie-O turkey plant in Barron as Jayme's parents, Jennie-O Turkey Store President Steve Lykken said. Patterson quit, saying he was moving from the area, Lykken said. But the sheriff said it did not appear Patterson interacted with the couple during his brief time there.

He had no criminal record, according to the sheriff. He graduated in 2015 from Northwood High School, where he was on the quiz bowl team and was a good student with a "great group of friends," said District Superintendent Jean Serum.

Kasinskas said she taught Patterson science in middle school, but added: "I don't really remember a ton about him."

"He seemed like a quiet kid," she said. "I don't recall anything that would have explained this, by any means."

The woman who first spotted Jayme on Thursday, Jeanne Nutter, said she was walking her dog along a rural road when a girl called out to her, grabbed her and revealed her name.

"She just yelled, 'Please help me! I don't know where I am! I'm lost!'" Nutter, a social worker who spent years working in child protection, told The Associated Press.

Nutter took her to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas. Jayme was quiet, her emotions "pretty flat," Peter Kasinskas said. From what she told them, they believed she was in Gordon, a logging town of about 650 people, for most of the time she was missing.

Over the past few months, detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches for Jayme, including one that drew 2,000 volunteers but yielded no clues.

"It was only a few months ago that we as a community gathered to pray for Jayme's safe return at Barron High School," Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright said Friday. "God has answered those prayers."

In November, the sheriff said he kept similar cases in the back of his mind as he worked to find Jayme, including the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, who was 14 when she was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. Smart was rescued nine months later after witnesses recognized her abductors on an "America's Most Wanted" episode.

Smart said in a telephone interview that Jayme's story is "why we can never give up hope on any missing child."


A timeline of events in the Jayme Closs disappearance case

MILWAUKEE  Notable events in the disappearance and discovery of Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old Wisconsin girl who went missing after her parents were killed in the family home. Investigators say she was found alive on Thursday and that a suspect is in custody.

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Oct. 15, 2018 James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, are found shot to death in their home in Barron, a town in western Wisconsin. Authorities issue an Amber Alert for 13-year-old Jayme Closs, and the search for her begins.

Oct. 16, 2018 Investigators say they don't consider Jayme a suspect in her parents' deaths. Authorities also dismiss a tip placing Jayme's whereabouts in Miami as "not credible," and say they believe the girl is in danger.

Oct. 17, 2018 Authorities announce that investigators believe Jayme was in her family's home when her parents were fatally shot.

Oct. 18, 2018 About 100 people join a ground search for Jayme after Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald requests the help of volunteers. The search turns up nothing useful. The Wisconsin Department of Justice announces it is sending therapists, comfort dogs and school resource officers to help students at the school Jayme attended.

Oct. 23, 2018 About 2,000 volunteers from as far as Minneapolis help with another ground search . Several items are found and taken for assessment.

Oct. 24, 2018 The FBI offers a $25,000 reward for information leading to Jayme's location. The amount is later doubled to $50,000 by the Jennie-O Turkey Store, where James and Denise Closs worked.

Oct. 27, 2018 Funerals are held for James and Denise Closs in Cameron, a village next to Barron.

Oct. 29, 2018 Prosecutors announce they have charged a man with burglarizing the Closs home but say he's not a suspect in the case.

Dec. 12, 2018 Hundreds of people attend a "tree of hope" lighting ceremony in honor of Jayme in Barron.

Jan. 10, 2019 Jayme is found alive in the Town of Gordon, a rural community about an hour from her home. A suspect is taken into custody.

Jan. 11, 2019 Investigators say the suspect, 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson, is jailed on homicide and kidnapping charges.

 

Associated Press

 

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