Man faces murder charge in Wis. kidnapping case
Jake Patterson is arrested after Jayme Closs escaped after 3-month captivity
BARRON, WIS. — A 21-year-old man shot a Wisconsin couple to death at their home in a scheme to kidnap their teenage daughter, then held the girl captive for three months before she managed to escape in an isolated north woods town, authorities said Friday.
Jayme Closs, 13, was skinny, disheveled and wearing shoes too big for her when she approached a stranger and pleaded for help Thursday in the small town of Gordon, where Jake Thomas Patterson lives.
Patterson was apparently looking for her when he was arrested and jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said.
The news that Jayme was safe set off joy and relief 60 miles away in her hometown of Barron, population 3,300, ending a 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,” Fitzgerald said, describing the moment he learned Jayme had been found.
Jayme told one of the neighbors in Gordon who took her in 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,’ ” said another neighbor, Kristin Kasinskas. “She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him.”
Fitzgerald said investigators are trying
to figure out what happened to Jayme during her captivity and why she was seized. They gave no details on how she escaped except to say that Patterson was not home at the time. He said there is no evidence that 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,” Fitzgerald said. “Believe me, so are we.”
The sheriff said Jayme was hospitalized overnight for observation and released after an exam. Investigators were still interviewing her, and she was “doing as well as circumstances allow,” he said.
Kasinskas called 911 to report that the girl had been found after another neighbor out walking her dog encountered Jayme and brought her to Kasinskas’ house. Minutes later, Patterson was pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy, authorities said.
He was scheduled for an initial court appearance Monday. It was not known whether Patterson, who is unemployed, had an attorney.
Jayme’s grandfather, Robert Naiberg, said he had been praying for months for the call about his granddaughter. “I thought, ‘Good for her, she escaped,’ ” he said.
Jayme disappeared from her home near Barron after someone broke in and shot her parents, James and Denise Closs, on Oct. 15. The sheriff said investigators believe Patterson killed them in order to abduct the girl.
Patterson tried to avoid leaving evidence at the scene of the killings, taking such steps as shaving his head beforehand, the sheriff said.
A shotgun similar to the one used was recovered from the home where police believe Jayme was held, Fitzgerald said.
Patterson had no criminal record, according to the sheriff. He graduated in 2015 from Northwood High School, where he was on the quiz bowl team and was a good
“My legs started to shake. It was awesome. The stress, the relief — it was awesome.”
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald
student with a “great group of friends,” said District Superintendent Jean Serum.
Kasinskas said she taught Patterson science in middle school, but added: “I don’t really remember a ton about him.”
The woman who first spotted Jayme on Thursday, Jeanne Nutter, said she was walking her dog when a disheveled girl called out to her, grabbed her and revealed her name.
“I was terrified, but I didn’t want to show her that,” said Nutter, a social worker who spent years working in child protection. “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.
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.
Smart said in a telephone interview that Jayme’s story is “why we can never give up hope on any missing child.”
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald holds up the booking photo of Jake Thomas Patterson, who allegedly kidnapped Jayme Closs, Closs, a 13-year-old northwestern Wisconsin girl who went missing in October after her parents were killed, was found alive Thursday.
Jeanne Nutter speaks to reporters in Gordon, Wis. Nutter, was walking her dog near the cabin she owns when she encountered Jayme Closs coming out of nearby woods.