Al­leged Closs kid­nap­per, killer lived un­der radar

Santa Fe New Mexican - - NATION & WORLD - By Steve Karnowski and Todd Rich­mond

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 ex­is­tence un­til that fate­ful night, blend­ing into the state’s vast north- western 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 year-round homes about 10 miles out­side Gor­don proper. Pat­ter­son’s high school teach­ers barely re­mem­ber the now 21-year-old man who grad­u­ated only 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 that Pat­ter­son and his older brother, Erik, con­tin­ued to stay in the cabin. She said she and her hus­band once caught them si­phon­ing gas. An­other neigh­bor, Pa­tri­cia Os­borne, told the Min­neapo­lis Star

Tri­bune that the broth­ers of­ten got into trouble. She said they stole things and spent time in foster care.

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.

North­wood Su­per­in­ten­dent Jean Serum called Pat­ter­son a “quiet, good stu­dent who had won­der­ful friends and a sup­port­ive class,” but said she had no real me­mories of him.

He worked for a day in 2016 for the Jen­nie-O turkey plant in Bar­ron be­fore he quit, say­ing he was mov­ing out of the area, ac­cord­ing to Jen­nie-O Pres­i­dent Steve Lykken. Bar­ron County Sher­iff Chris Fitzger­ald said he was un­em­ployed when of­fi­cers ar­rested him.

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. Kasin­skas told the Star Tri­bune that she didn’t even re­al­ize he was her neigh­bor.

Pat­ter­son has no crim­i­nal his­tory in Wis­con­sin but his brother has had mul­ti­ple run-ins with the law, in­clud­ing con­vic­tions for mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion, bail jump­ing and sex­ual assault, on­line court records show. Fitzger­ald hasn’t said whether Jayme was sex­u­ally as­saulted but said Satur­day that in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve Jake Pat­ter­son acted alone.

De­spite Erik Pat­ter­son’s crim­i­nal record, few across the town­ship seem to have heard of his fam­ily. James Kuf­fel, the town­ship’s lone constable, said he knows al­most ev­ery­one in the area but has never en­coun­tered the Pat­ter­sons.

Jayme Closs

Jake Thomas Pat­ter­son

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