Family: Teen had no link to suspect
MADISON, Wis. — 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.
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 13-yearold daughter, Jayme Closs.
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.
“[But] he knew what he was doing,” Naiberg said. “We don’t know if he was stalking her or what. Did he see her somewhere?”
Attorneys for Patterson called the affair “a very tragic situation” and said they were relying on the court system to treat him fairly. Patterson will appear in court Monday.
The news that Jayme was safe set off joy and relief in her hometown of Barron, population 3,300 and about 60 miles from where she was found. The discovery ended an all-out search that gripped the state, with many people fearing the worst.
Jayme’s aunt, Jennifer Smith, posted on Facebook on 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!!”
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. Records show that the cabin belonged to Patterson’s father.
“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.”
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald gave no details on how the girl escaped except to say Patterson was not home at the time. The sheriff said he didn’t know whether Jayme had been physically abused.
Naiberg, 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. He said she was largely silent and did not talk about how Patterson had kept her confined.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald spoke in October after 13-yearold Jayme Closs disappeared. She escaped her captor on Thursday.