Teen reunited with family
Shootings survivor safe as alleged abductor faces kidnapping and murder charges.
Kidnapped Wisconsin teenager Jayme Closs has been reunited with family members, and her alleged abductor is expected to make his first court appearance tomorrow, where he will be formally charged with kidnapping and murder.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said yesterday the 13-year-old was reunited with her aunt, and was expected to join the rest of her family soon.
‘‘She is doing as well as the circumstances allow,’’ he said.
‘‘Jayme is the hero in this case, there’s no question about it.’’
Jake T Patterson, 21, will appear in Barron County Circuit Court, where he will be charged with kidnapping and two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly gunning down Jayme’s parents in the early hours of October 15, then abducting her.
Fitzgerald said investigators found a shotgun at the rural Wisconsin home where Patterson was allegedly keeping Jayme, and it was consistent with what was used the morning her parents were killed. Other weapons were found in the home.
Fitzgerald noted that Patterson ‘‘took great efforts to minimise his forensic footprint at the crime scene’’, including shaving his head so as not to leave hair behind.
He reiterated that Patterson had no relationship to the Closs family, and investigators did not know why he chose Jayme as his target.
‘‘Nothing in this case shows the suspect knew anyone at the Closs home or at any time had any contact with anyone in the Closs family,’’ Fitzgerald said.
‘‘The suspect had specific intentions to kidnap Jayme, and went to great lengths to prepare to take her.’’
Jayme appeared bedraggled and thin after escaping her captor on Friday and seeking help from neighbours in a remote area several kilometres from Gordon, Wisconsin. Fitzgerald said police believed Patterson was looking for her when he was arrested.
Jayme was located several kilometres outside Gordon, about an hour’s drive north of her home. Patterson was pulled over in a car nearby and arrested without resistance, thanks to a vehicle description the teen had provided, Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec said.
At a news conference yesterday, everyone from law enforcement and others who spoke praised Jayme for surviving, escaping and providing the key piece of information that led to Patterson’s arrest.
‘‘It’s amazing, the will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape,’’ Fitzgerald said.
Patterson was hired at the Jennie-O Turkey Store in Barron three years ago but quit the next day, according to Jennie-O Turkey Store president Steve Lykken. Jayme’s parents James and Denise Closs worked at the company for 27 years.
Lykken said Patterson quit after being hired, saying he was moving away from the area.
Fitzgerald said Jayme had been discharged from hospital and was undergoing mental and physical evaluations, and questioning by the FBI and detectives.
He said Patterson had no criminal history in Wisconsin or the Gordon area and ‘‘was not on our radar’’. He did have ties to Barron, but Fitzgerald did not say what those ties were.
Diane Tremblay, the superintendent of the school district where Jayme attended class, said: ‘‘There is so much love and hugs in our district today. It’s just insurmountable.
‘‘We want to thank Jayme for being so courageous and finding the opportunity to come back to us. What an extraordinary young lady.’’
People throughout the town of 3400 residents about 140km northeast of the Twin Cities, were upbeat, too.
‘‘It’s a miracle,’’ said resident Ron Wheeler as he ate breakfast at the counter of Seasons Cafe. ‘‘Everybody thought she would never come back.’’
Barron Mayor Ron Fladten said everybody was ‘‘elated’’ after a difficult three months that had wounded the community, which he called ‘‘solid Midwest’’.
‘‘It’s like a dark cloud has been hanging over our head for about 88 days,’’ Fladten said.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald holds the booking photo of Jake Thomas Patterson, who allegedly kidnapped Jayme Closs after murdering her parents at their Wisconsin home. Investigators believe Patterson had no relationship to the Closs family, and do not know why he chose Jayme as his target. Closs has been reunited with her aunt, Jennifer Smith, inset.