Granddad says Wisconsin girl has no link to suspected kidnapper
The grandfather of a northwestern Wisconsin girl who authorities say was abducted during a home invasion that left her parents dead said Saturday that the family has no connection to the suspect and doesn’t understand why he targeted her, deepening a mystery that has captivated the state for months.
Someone blasted open the door of James and Denise Closs’ home near Barron with a shotgun in October, gunned the couple down and made off with their daughter, Jayme, 13.
Jayme had been missing for nearly three months Thursday when she approached a stranger near the small, isolated north woods town of Gordon and pleaded for help. Officers arrested 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson minutes later based on Jayme’s description of his vehicle. He was jailed on suspicion of kidnapping and homicide.
Investigators have said Patterson’s goal was to kidnap Jayme, but he appears to have no connection to the family. Jayme’s grandfather Robert Naiberg said in a telephone interview Saturday that the only thing the family knows for sure is that no one knew Patterson. He said Jayme told FBI agents she didn’t know him at all.
“He didn’t know Jayme, he didn’t know Denise or Jim,” Naiberg said. “[Jayme] don’t know him from Adam. [But] he knew what he was doing. We don’t know if he was stalking her or what.
Did he see her somewhere?”
Patterson attorneys Charles Glynn and Richard Jones said in a statement they consider the situation “very tragic” and that they are relying on the court system to treat their client fairly. Charges are expected against Patterson on Monday, when he is expected to make his initial appearance in court.
Jayme’s aunt, Jennifer Smith, posted on Facebook Saturday that Jayme was doing well.
“Jayme had a pretty good night sleep it was great to know she was next to me all night what a great feeling to have her home. As a family we will get through all of the healing process Jayme has. It will be a long road but we are family strong and we love this little girl so much!!”
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said investigators are trying to figure out what happened to Jayme during her captivity and why she was seized, and gave no details on how she escaped except to say Patterson was not home at the time. He said there is no evidence Patterson knew Jayme or her family or had been in contact with her on social media.
The sheriff said he didn’t know whether Jayme had been physically abused.
Jayme’s grandfather said he spent a few hours with her on Friday. No one pressed her to talk, he said, adding that FBI agents and doctors advised them to let her speak when she’s ready.