Sus­pect in Closs case was quiet stu­dent, for­mer class­mates say

Pat­ter­son par­tic­i­pated in school’s Quiz Bowl, drifted into back­ground af­ter grad­u­a­tion

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Front Page - Bill Glauber Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - WIS­CON­SIN

GOR­DON - Jake Thomas Pat­ter­son re­mains a mys­tery.

At North­wood School Dis­trict in Mi­nong, where he grad­u­ated from the K-12 school in 2015, Pat­ter­son was quiet and with­drawn, yet smart enough to be on a quiz team and able to crack a quick joke.

In the school’s year­book, he said af­ter grad­u­a­tion he planned to en­list in the U.S. Ma­rine Corps. and wrote, “I’m fi­nally done with school.”

It’s not clear whether Pat­ter­son ever fol­lowed through on join­ing the mil­i­tary. He did work, for just one day, at a tur­key plant, and he ap­pears to have drifted in the back­ground in this ru­ral swath of Wis­con­sin. He did not have a crim­i­nal record.

The blanks in Pat­ter­son’s story will fill in over the com­ing weeks and

months as he faces charges of mur­der­ing Denise and James Closs and kid­nap­ping their 13-year-old daugh­ter Jayme.

Eighty-eight days af­ter her ab­duc­tion, Jayme es­caped from a home Thurs­day in Gor­don where au­thor­i­ties said she was kept by Pat­ter­son. Sher­iff ’s deputies quickly ap­pre­hended Pat­ter­son, who they be­lieve was out driv­ing and look­ing for Jayme. He sur­ren­dered without in­ci­dent.

Jayme is stay­ing with an aunt who posted on Face­book that she had a fairly good night’s sleep and that her fam­ily will sup­port her through­out her heal­ing process.

“It will be a long road, but we are fam­ily strong and we love this lit­tle girl so much!!” she said.

Pat­ter­son, 21, is due to make his ini­tial court ap­pear­ance Mon­day in Bar­ron. Au­thor­i­ties have said he acted alone, us­ing a shot­gun to blast his way into the Closs home. He was tar­get­ing Jayme, they said.

“We don’t think there are any other sus­pects who helped him with this plan and ... kid­nap­ping,” Bar­ron County Sher­iff Chris Fitzger­ald said Satur­day.

Pat­ter­son will be rep­re­sented by state pub­lic de­fend­ers Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, with as­sis­tance of the Pub­lic De­fender’s Of­fice in Bar­ron County.

“This is a very tragic sit­u­a­tion,” Glynn and Jones said in a state­ment is­sued late Fri­day. “There is a sub­stan­tial amount of in­for­ma­tion, in­ter­est, and emo­tion in­volved in this case. Mr. Pat­ter­son’s le­gal team will be re­ly­ing on the in­tegrity of our ju­di­cial sys­tem to in­sure that ev­ery­one’s rights are pro­tected and re­spected.”

“We await the fil­ing of the crim­i­nal com­plaint and ini­tial ap­pear­ance on Mon­day,” they added.

Pat­ter­son grad­u­ated from high school in a class of 34 stu­dents. A de­scrip­tion of his high school years was pro­vided by for­mer stu­dents who didn’t want to be named.

Class­mates de­scribed him as quiet and seem­ingly in­dif­fer­ent.

“He was just kind of there,” said one for­mer stu­dent.

Pat­ter­son was voted as the “most quiet” boy in the class of 2015.

“Ran­domly in class, Jake would crack a joke and it would be ab­so­lutely hi­lar­i­ous and the whole class would hear it,” the class­mate said. Some­times, he would sleep in class.

An­other for­mer stu­dent, who was a year be­hind Pat­ter­son, said, “He seemed like he was just one of those guys in school that wanted to fit in but couldn’t be­cause he lacked so­cial skills. ...(He) never re­ally made an im­pact in any way.”

Pat­ter­son wres­tled in ele­men­tary school, a class­mate said, but wasn’t in­ter­ested in go­ing to sport­ing events in high school, a no­tice­able trait in a small town where life re­volves around school ac­tiv­i­ties.

He was a mem­ber of the school’s Quiz Bowl team, a club de­scribed by North­wood School Su­per­in­ten­dent Jean Serum as “a bat­tle of the braini­acs” com­pe­ti­tion be­tween schools.

He looked like a typ­i­cal kid in his fresh­man year­book, tou­sled hair and a shy smile. He shaved his hair close some­time be­tween the end of his sopho­more year and the be­gin­ning of his ju­nior year.

In many ways, he was known by what he didn’t do.

He didn’t go to prom and didn’t go on the se­nior class trip to Florida. He didn’t pose with fel­low grad­u­ates in the class photo. Class­mates said they don’t re­call him par­tic­i­pat­ing in the cer­e­mony.

“Which pretty much sums up, he was just there,” a class­mate said.

A group of stu­dents posed for a photo in a se­nior exit pro­ject. At first glance, it ap­peared that Pat­ter­son wasn’t in the photo. But he was. He was sit­ting be­hind the group at a ta­ble, work­ing on a lap­top.

His home life re­mains un­clear. Pat­ter­son’s par­ents di­vorced in 2007. Pat­ter­son has an older brother and older sis­ter. His older brother has a crim­i­nal record, in­clud­ing a no con­test plea to a fourth-de­gree sex­ual as­sault charge in 2013. The older brother was sen­tenced to a year’s pro­ba­tion.

The only job that Pat­ter­son was known to have held was at Jen­nie-O Tur­key Store in Bar­ron. He worked there three years ago but quit af­ter one day. Jayme’s par­ents worked at the com­pany for 27 years but au­thor­i­ties have said it’s not be­lieved they crossed paths with Pat­ter­son on the job.

“How did he get like this?” the class­mate asked. “He just dis­ap­peared af­ter high school.”

USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-Wis­con­sin pho­tog­ra­pher T’xer Zhon Kha con­trib­uted to this re­port.

T'XER ZHON KHA / USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-WIS­CON­SIN

Bar­ron churches, res­i­dents, busi­nesses and non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions lit up LED boards and put up signs to wel­come Jayme Closs home Satur­day.

Pat­ter­son Fresh­man year­book photo

Pat­ter­son Ar­rest photo

A sign at a phar­macy wel­comes Jayme Closs back.

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