Man jailed in teen’s ab­duc­tion, killings


Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS -

A21-year-old man shot a Wis­con­sin cou­ple to death in a scheme to kid­nap their teenage daugh­ter, then held the girl cap­tive for three months in an iso­lated north woods town be­fore she man­aged to es­cape, au­thor­i­ties said Fri­day.

Jayme Closs, 13, was skinny, di­sheveled and wear­ing shoes too big for her when she ap­proached a stranger to tell her story Thurs­day in the small town of Gor­don, where po­lice said Jake Thomas Pat­ter­son lived.

Her dis­cov­ery set off joy and re­lief 60 miles (96 kilo­me­tres) 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 at a news con­fer­ence, de­scrib­ing the mo­ment of joy when he learned that Jayme had been found.

Jayme told one of the neigh­bours in Gor­don who helped take her in after her es­cape 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,’” an­other one of the neigh­bours, Kristin Kasinskas, told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him.”

Pat­ter­son was jailed on kid­nap­ping and homi­cide charges. It was not im­me­di­ately known whether the un­em­ployed man had an at­tor­ney.

Fitzger­ald gave no de­tails on what hap­pened to Jayme dur­ing her cap­tiv­ity and why she was seized. He said that he did not know if Jayme had been phys­i­cally abused but that she was hos­pi­tal­ized overnight for ob­ser­va­tion and cleared and re­leased after a checkup. In­ves­ti­ga­tors were still in­ter­view­ing her.

The sher­iff said in­ves­ti­ga­tors do not be­lieve Pat­ter­son knew the girl.

How­ever, 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 the next day, say­ing he was mov­ing from the area, Lykken said.

Kasinskas called 911 to re­port the girl had been found after an­other neigh­bour out walk­ing her dog en­coun­tered Jayme and brought her to Kasinskas’ house. Min­utes later, Pat­ter­son was pulled over by a sher­iff’s deputy based on a de­scrip­tion of his vehicle Jayme pro­vided, au­thor­i­ties said.

Jayme’s grand­fa­ther, Robert Naiberg, told the AP that he had been pray­ing for months for the call he re­ceived about his grand­daugh­ter be­ing found alive.

“I thought, ‘Good for her she es­caped,’” he said.

Jayme dis­ap­peared with­out a trace from her fam­ily’s home near Bar­ron after some­one broke in and killed her par­ents, James and Denise Closs, on Oct. 15.

Fitzger­ald said Jayme was taken against her will. He said in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve Pat­ter­son killed Jayme’s par­ents be­cause he wanted to abduct her.

Prop­erty records show the cabin’s ti­tle passed from Pat­ter­son’s father to a credit union in Oc­to­ber, eight days after Jayme’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

Pat­ter­son was a good but quiet stu­dent with a “great group of friends,” said North­wood School Dis­trict Su­per­in­ten­dent Jean Serum. Pat­ter­son was a mem­ber of the North­wood High School quiz bowl team and grad­u­ated in 2015, she said.

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 di­sheveled girl called out to her for help, grabbed her and re­vealed her name.

“I was ter­ri­fied, but I didn’t want to show her that,” Nut­ter, a so­cial worker who spent years work­ing in child pro­tec­tion, told the AP. “She just yelled, ‘Please help me! I don’t know where I am! I’m lost!’”

Nut­ter took her to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas. Jayme was quiet, her emo­tions “pretty flat,” Peter Kasinskas said.

Jayme told the cou­ple she didn’t know where she was or any­thing about Gor­don, a town of about 644 peo­ple in a heav­ily forested re­gion where log­ging in the top in­dus­try. From what she told them, they be­lieved she was there for most of her dis­ap­pear­ance.

After Jayce van­ished, de­tec­tives pur­sued thou­sands of tips, watched dozens of surveil­lance videos and con­ducted nu­mer­ous searches. Of­fi­cials re­cruited 2,000 vol­un­teers for a huge ground search Oct. 23, but it yielded no clues.

Fitzger­ald said in Novem­ber that 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 from an “Amer­ica’s Most Wanted” episode.

On Fri­day, Smart posted on her In­sta­gram ac­count that it was a “mir­a­cle” Jayme had been found alive. Smart said the girl’s fam­ily should be given “space and pri­vacy on their road to find­ing a new sense of nor­mal and mov­ing for­ward.”

“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 at a news con­fer­ence. “God has an­swered those prayers.”

As­so­ci­ated Press pho­tos

In this Oct. 17 file photo, Bar­ron County Sher­iff Chris Fitzger­ald speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence about 13-year-old Jayme Closs who had been miss­ing since her par­ents were found dead in their home in Bar­ron, Wis.

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.

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