Wis­con­sin man ar­rested in ab­duc­tion of girl, 13, and killing of her par­ents

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Canada & World - JEFF BAENEN AND GRETCHEN EHLKE

BAR­RON, WIS. — A 21-year-old man is jailed in the deaths of a Wis­con­sin cou­ple he killed be­cause he wanted to kid­nap their teenage daugh­ter, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said Fri­day, a day after the girl ap­proached a stranger along a ru­ral road say­ing she’d been ab­ducted in Oc­to­ber and held against her will.

Jake Thomas Pat­ter­son was ar­rested shortly after 13-year-old Jayme Closs sought help from a woman walk­ing her dog in a heav­ily wooded ru­ral neigh­bour­hood near the small town of Gor­don, about 100 kilo­me­tres north of Bar­ron. Jayme dis­ap­peared from her fam­ily’s home near Bar­ron after her par­ents were killed Oct. 15.

Bar­ron County Sher­iff Chris Fitzger­ald said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Fri­day that Jayme was taken against her will. He said in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve Pat­ter­son killed Jayme’s par­ents be­cause he wanted to abduct her, and that Pat­ter­son “planned his ac­tions and took many steps to hide his iden­tity.”

Fitzger­ald said in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve the girl was “the only tar­get” and don’t be­lieve Pat­ter­son had any con­tact with the fam­ily. Dou­glas County Sher­iff Thomas Dal­bec said Pat­ter­son was jailed on kid­nap­ping and homi­cide charges.

The woman who first spot­ted Jayme on Thurs­day, Jeanne Nut­ter, said she was walk­ing her dog along a ru­ral road when a di­shev­elled teenage girl called out to her for help and quickly grabbed her. Only then did Jayme re­veal her name.

Nut­ter said Jayme told her she had walked away from a cabin where she’d been held cap­tive, a cabin not far from Nut­ter’s home.

“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 As­so­ci­ated Press on Fri­day. “She just yelled, ‘Please help me. I don’t know where I am. I’m lost.’ ”

Nut­ter added: “My only thought was to get her to a safe place.” The two went to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas, who said Jayme was skinny and dirty, wear­ing shoes too big for her feet, but ap­peared out­wardly OK.

Kristin Kasinskas, who called 911 to re­port the girl had been found, told the AP on Fri­day that Jayme had iden­ti­fied the sus­pect once she was safely in­side her home.

“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.”

Pat­ter­son lived just three doors down from Kasinskas, but Kasinskas said she didn’t re­al­ize it un­til po­lice iden­ti­fied him as the sus­pect. She said she never saw Pat­ter­son on her street or in town, and doesn’t re­mem­ber see­ing him since he was in high school.

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

Jayme went miss­ing after po­lice dis­cov­ered some­one had bro­ken into the fam­ily’s home out­side Bar­ron and fa­tally shot her par­ents, James and Denise Closs. Jayme was nowhere to be found. The Bar­ron County Sher­iff’s De­part­ment said the girl had likely been ab­ducted.

De­tec­tives pur­sued thou­sands of tips, watched dozens of surveil­lance videos and con­ducted nu­mer­ous searches in the ef­fort to find Jayme. Some tips led of­fi­cials to re­cruit 2,000 vol­un­teers for a mas­sive ground search on 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 with the help of two wit­nesses who rec­og­nized her ab­duc­tors from an “Amer­ica’s Most Wanted” episode.

Jake Thomas Pat­ter­son

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