Sus­pect lived un­der the radar

New Haven Register (Sunday) (New Haven, CT) - - OBITUARIES/NEWS -

GOR­DON, Wis. — The man sus­pected of kid­nap­ping a Wis­con­sin teenager and killing her par­ents with a shot­gun nearly three months ago ap­pears to have led an un­re­mark­able exis- tence un­til that fate­ful night, blend­ing into the state’s vast north­west­ern forests.

Jake Thomas Pat­ter­son grew up in Gor­don, a sprawl­ing town­ship of 645 peo­ple tucked into the snowy ever­green forests about 35 miles south of Lake Su­pe­rior. It’s wild coun­try; road­side signs ad­mon­ish mo­torists to share the pave­ment with ATVs.

The few neigh­bors who know Pat­ter­son’s fam­ily say he grew up in a cabin in a re­mote de­vel­op­ment that’s a mix of sea­sonal and year­round homes about 10 miles out­side Gor­don. Pat­ter­son’s teach­ers barely re­mem­ber the now 21-year-old who grad­u­ated three years ago, and say they didn’t re­al­ize he still lived in the area.

Jayme Closs, 13, has told au­thor­i­ties since her es­cape Thurs­day that she was held cap­tive at that same re­mote wood­land cabin af­ter her ab­duc­tion in Oc­to­ber from her fam­ily home in Bar­ron.

Au­thor­i­ties be­lieve Pat­ter­son went to the Closs home in­tend­ing to kid­nap Jayme. But they haven’t been able to find any con­nec­tion be­tween him and the Closs fam­ily. The girl’s grand­fa­ther, Robert Naiberg, in­sisted Satur­day that none of them know him, rais­ing ques­tions about how Pat­ter­son be­came aware of Jayme. In­ves­ti­ga­tors say they’ve found no ev­i­dence of any on­line con­ver­sa­tions be­tween the two.

Pat­ter­son’s par­ents di­vorced in 2008, ac­cord­ing to on­line court records. Neigh­bor Daphne Ron­ning told the Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel that the par­ents moved away but Pat­ter­son and his older brother, Erik, con­tin­ued to stay in the cabin. An­other neigh­bor, Pa­tri­cia Os­borne, told the Min­ne­ap­o­lis Star Tri­bune that the brothers of­ten got into trou­ble. She said they spent time in foster care.

The de­vel­op­ment was sealed off by po­lice Satur­day, prevent­ing re­porters from knock­ing on neigh­bors’ doors.

Pat­ter­son grad­u­ated in 2015 from North­wood High School in nearby Mi­nong, a sin­gle build­ing that houses pre-kinder­garten through 12th grade. He was a mem­ber of the school’s quiz bowl team, com­pet­ing against other schools in tests of knowl­edge.

The sus­pect has no ap­par­ent on­line pres­ence. It ap­pears he has been liv­ing in the fam­ily cabin; prop­erty records in­di­cate his fa­ther still owned the place in Oc­to­ber. But he has kept a low pro­file.

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