Girl found alive three months after par­ents slain

Par­ents were killed dur­ing ab­duc­tion

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - ISAAC STAN­LEY-BECKER AND LIND­SEY BEVER The Washington Post, with files from The As­so­ci­ated Press

In a wooded out­post of north­west­ern Wis­con­sin, a slen­der girl with mat­ted hair and shoes too big for her feet ran out in the freez­ing cold Thurs­day and sought help from a woman walk­ing her dog.

“She just yelled, ‘Please help me. I don’t know where I am. I’m lost’,” said the woman, Jeanne Nut­ter, a so­cial worker who spent years work­ing in child pro­tec­tion.

Nut­ter rushed the young girl to a nearby home and knocked on the door.

“This is Jayme Closs!” she told the home­owner, Kristin Kasinskas. “Call 911!”

Soon after, Bar­ron County Sher­iff Chris Fitzger­ald an­nounced that 13-year-old Jayme Closs — miss­ing since Oc­to­ber, when her par­ents were found slain in their home in Bar­ron, Wisc. — had been lo­cated alive, end­ing a month­s­long man­hunt after she fled her cap­tor.

“Jayme is safe!” Fitzger­ald declared dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Fri­day morn­ing.

“It’s amaz­ing, the will of that 13-year-old girl to sur­vive and es­cape.”

Au­thor­i­ties said at a news con­fer­ence that 21-year-old Jake Thomas Pat­ter­son had been ar­rested on two counts of first-de­gree in­ten­tional homi­cide in the killings of Jayme’s par­ents and one count of kid­nap­ping.

Pat­ter­son, of­fi­cials said, “planned his ac­tions” and tar­geted the teen, and had sub­se­quently taken “proac­tive steps to avoid de­tec­tion” as lo­cal, state and fed­eral law en­force­ment agen­cies looked for him and the miss­ing girl.

Jayme went miss­ing on Oc­to­ber 15, when emer­gency ser­vices re­ceived a call at the fam­ily ad­dress in Bar­ron from a mo­bile phone. No­body spoke but a dis­tur­bance could be heard.

The front door had been kicked in and Jayme’s par­ents, James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, were found dead from gun­shot wounds. There was no gun found at the scene, and po­lice dis­cov­ered no ob­vi­ous mo­tive.

Jayme was nowhere to be found, and po­lice be­lieved she had been kid­napped. An Am­ber Alert was issued.

“Based on our in­ves­ti­ga­tion thus far, we be­lieve Jayme was in the home at the time of the homi­cides, and we be­lieve she is still in dan­ger,” Fitzger­ald told re­porters at the time. He added that “Here in Bar­ron County, we all know that these things just don’t hap­pen here.”

By the time Jayme ap­proached the dog walker Thurs­day, most peo­ple who live in the area had un­doubt­edly seen the teen’s photo and heard about what had hap­pened to her par­ents.

They also knew that she had mys­te­ri­ously van­ished from her home some 110 kilo­me­tres away.

Sud­denly, she was stand­ing on Kristin and Peter Kasinskas’s doorstep.

“I hon­estly still think I’m dreaming right now. It was like I was see­ing a ghost,” Kasinskas’s hus­band, Peter, told the Minneapolis Star Tri­bune. “It was scary and awe­some at the same time. My jaw just went to the floor.”

Kristin Kasinskas said the girl told her a man “killed my par­ents and took me.” She said she didn’t know why she was tar­geted.

Kristin Kasinskas said she did not re­ally know Pat­ter­son even though he lives in a re­mote cabin nearby. She said she taught him mid­dle school sci­ence but only re­mem­bered that he was quiet.

She said she didn’t see Pat­ter­son dur­ing the months that Jayme was miss­ing.

The Star Tri­bune re­ported that Jayme was in­vited in­side and of­fered food and wa­ter, which she de­clined; in­stead, she played with the neigh­bours’ new puppy, Penny, and waited for po­lice to ar­rive.

“We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to ful­fil that prom­ise,” Fitzger­ald wrote in a Face­book post. “From the bot­tom of my heart THANK YOU!”

Fitzger­ald said in­ves­ti­ga­tors did not be­lieve Jayme had ever in­ter­acted with Pat­ter­son be­fore they say he killed her par­ents and kid­napped her. He said he did not know if Jayme was abused by her cap­tor and that de­tec­tives were in­ter­view­ing her about her or­deal.

Jeff Closs, Jayme’s un­cle, told NBC af­fil­i­ate KARE on Thurs­day that the teen’s re­turn was shock­ing.

“You’re not sure if she’s go­ing to be found,” he said, “and when you ac­tu­ally hear it, it’s just un­be­liev­able. We’re all just so grate­ful and happy.


Jayme Closs, 13, miss­ing since Oc­to­ber 15, was found alive in the town of Gor­don, Wisc.

Jake Thomas Pat­ter­son

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