Teenager escapes months of captivity
Missing girl wanders into small town pleading for help
MINNEAPOLIS: MI A 13-yearold girl held captive for three months by a 21-year-old man charged with murdering her parents should be treated as a hero, the local sheriff says.
Teenager Jayme Closs escaped from a rural house in the midwestern US state of Wisconsin and helped break the case, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said.
Jayme was skinny, dishevelled and wearing shoes too big for her when she approached a stranger and pleaded for help on Thursday in the isolated forest town of Gordon, population 650, about 100km north of her hometown of Barron.
“She just yelled, ‘Please help me! I don’t know where I am. I’m lost!’ ” said Jeanne Nutter, who had been walking her dog. “I was terrified, but I didn’t want to show her that.”
Ms Nutter took her to the nearby home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas.
Jayme told the couple she had been held captive in a cabin and didn’t know where she was. She said Jake Patterson had killed her parents and taken her, and she didn’t know him.
Thousands of volunteers and hundreds of law enforcement officers had been searching around the clock for Jayme after her parents were found shot dead in their home, the front door open and the girl gone.
Her rescuers recognised the teenager immediately due to the publicity campaign.
Less than 15 minutes later, Jake Patterson was in custody after police pulled over his vehicle based on his victim’s description.
“Jayme is the hero in this case. She’s the one who helped us break this case,” Sheriff Fitzgerald said. “The suspect was out looking for her when law enforcement made contact with him.”
Patterson, an unemployed resident of Gordon, was charged with kidnapping and the murder of James and Denise Closs with a shotgun. Their bodies were discovered on October 15.
“The suspect had specific intentions to kidnap Jayme and went to great lengths to prepare to take her,” Sheriff Fitzgerald said.
It’s not yet clear how she managed to escape.
News that Jayme was safe set off joy and relief in Barron, population 3300, where many had feared the worst.
The sheriff said investigators were trying to work out what had happened to Jayme during her captivity and why she was seized.
They gave no details on how she had escaped except to say Patterson was not home at the time.
Sheriff Fitzgerald said there was 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,” he said. “Believe me, so are we.”
The sheriff said he didn’t know if Jayme had been physically abused but that she was admitted to hospital overnight for observation and released after an examination.
Property records show the cabin belonged to Patterson’s father at the time of Jayme’s disappearance.
Patterson, who has no criminal record, is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.
SHE’S ALIVE: Jayme Closs with her aunt, Jennifer Smith; volunteers join the earlier search (left); Jake Patterson (inset).