- Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old Wisconsin girl who went missing after her parents were killed in October, was found alive on Thursday.
- Suspect Jake Thomas Patterson, from Gordon, Wisconsin, was taken into custody shortly after Jayme was found.
- He is being held on homicide charges for the murder of her parents, as well as kidnapping.
The man suspected of kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs three months ago is a 21-year-old named Jake Thomas Patterson, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said at a press conference on Friday.
Fitzgerald said that Patterson, who is from Gordon, Wisconsin, is being held on homicide charges for the murder of her parents, as well as kidnapping.
Jayme was reported missing on October 15 after her parents, James and Denise Closs, were found fatally shot in their Barron County, Wisconsin, home.
She was found on Thursday night, on a street in the small town of Gordon, about 70 miles north of Barron County.
Fitzgerald said at a later press conference on Friday that Jayme appeared to be the only target in the kidnapping, and that nothing shows that Patterson knew anyone at the Closs home or knew anyone in the Closs family.
It’s also not apparent that Patterson and Jayme knew each other or had interacted on social media, Fitzgerald said.
It remains unclear why Jayme was targeted, and police are now investigating how Patterson knew about Jayme.
Fitzgerald said that Jayme was taken against her will and was held captive for three months, until she escaped on Thursday.
Patterson was not home when Jayme escaped, and investigators believe he was out looking for her when police picked him up.
The suspect, who has no prior criminal history in Wisconsin, had taken steps to hide his identity from the public as a search for Jayme carried on, Fitzgerald said.
He added that investigators believe Patterson killed Jayme’s parents because he wanted to abduct the teen.
When Patterson was arrested, he was found hiding in the home he grew up in, at a residence down the street from where Jayme was found, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Police are not looking for any further suspects.
Detectives received thousands of tips, and recruited 2,000 volunteers to search of Jayme in October, but found no leads in the weeks after her disappearance.
It wasn’t until she escaped the home that a suspect was revealed, when Jayme described his vehicle to police, Fitzgerald said at the press conference.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Jayme was found at 4:43 p.m. on Thursday, and a suspect was taken into custody 11 minutes later, according to The Associated Press.
Residents of Gordon told The Star Tribune that Jayme was skinny, dirty and wearing shoes too big for her feet when she was found by a woman walking her dog. Jayme had also reportedly banged on a neighbour’s door and said “This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!”
The neighbour, Gordon resident Kristin Kasinskas, brought Jayme into their home, where Jayme told her and her husband, Peter, she didn’t know where she was or anything about the town.
Kasinskas told The Associated Press on Friday that Jayme told her that she did not know why she was targeted, only that Patterson “killed my parents and took me.”
“She said that this person’s name was Jake Patterson, he killed my parents and took me,” Kasinskas said. “She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him.”
Kasinskas, a middle school science teacher, said she remembered Patterson being very quiet as a student, but didn’t know him very well as a neighbour.
She said she didn’t see Patterson in the three months that Jayme was missing.
During a search of the home that Jayme had escaped from, police recovered a shotgun that appeared to be consistent with what was used to kill Jayme’s parents in October, though the gun still has to go through crime lab testing, Fitzgerald said at a press conference Friday afternoon.
Early on in the case police said the Closs’s front door had been kicked in on the night of the murders, but Fitzgerald clarified on Friday that it had been shot in with a shotgun.
When Jayme first went missing, the Barron County Sheriff’s Department described her as likely abducted, after her parents were found dead.
Investigators said Jayme was quickly ruled out as a suspect in her parents’ murder.
Patterson worked at the turkey farm where Jayme’s parents worked for two days during an unknown period, but it does not appear they interacted with him at the time, Fitzgerald said.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald in November compared the case to that of Elizabeth Smart, who was 14 when she was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 and rescued nine months later.
Upon hearing the news that Jayme was found, Jayme’s aunt, Sue Allard, expressed joy to the Star Tribune.
“Praise the Lord,” Allard said. “It’s the news we’ve been waiting on for three months. I can’t wait to get my arms around her. I just can’t wait.”
Jayme was reunited with her aunt in the hospital on Thursday night and will be reunited with the rest of her family on Friday.
Patterson will make a court appearance in Barron County on Monday, where he will be charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping.
- Read more about missing persons:
- A reporter covered a story on a missing 89-year-old with dementia and ended up finding the woman
- The fiancé of missing Colorado woman Kelsey Berreth has been formally charged in her death even though her body hasn’t been found
- The body of a US tourist who disappeared in Costa Rica was found near her Airbnb, and the property’s security guard has been arrested
- Dozens of Alaskan native communities have no law enforcement, forcing sexual assault victims to take planes and boats for forensic exams
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