Man ac­cused in killings, ab­duc­tion

Wis­con­sin girl’s plea to woman: ‘Please help me!’

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Jeff Baenen and Gretchen Ehlke

Po­lice: 21-year-old man shot Wis­con­sin cou­ple to death in a scheme to kid­nap their teenage daugh­ter.

BAR­RON, Wis. — A 21year-old man shot a Wis­con­sin cou­ple to death at their home in a scheme to kid­nap their teenage daugh­ter, then held the girl cap­tive for three months be­fore she man­aged to es­cape in an iso­lated north woods town, au­thor­i­ties said Fri­day.

Jayme Closs, 13, was skinny, di­sheveled and wear­ing shoes too big for her when she ap­proached a stranger and pleaded for help Thurs­day in the small town of Gor­don, where Jake Thomas Pat­ter­son lives.

Pat­ter­son was ap­par­ently look­ing for her when he was ar­rested and jailed on kid­nap­ping and homi­cide charges, Bar­ron County Sher­iff Chris Fitzger­ald said.

The news that Jayme was safe set off joy and re­lief 60 miles away in her home­town of Bar­ron, pop­u­la­tion 3,300, end­ing a search that gripped the state, with many peo­ple fear­ing the worst the longer she was miss­ing.

“My legs started to shake. It was awe­some. The stress, the re­lief — it was awe­some,” Fitzger­ald said, de­scrib­ing the mo­ment he learned Jayme had been found.

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.

“She said that this per­son’s name was Jake Pat­ter­son, ‘he killed my par­ents and took me,’ ” said an­other one of the neigh­bors, Kristin Kasin­skas. “She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him.”

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 con­tact with her on so­cial me­dia.

“I know all of you are search­ing for the an­swer why any of this hap­pened,” Fitzger­ald said. “Be­lieve me, so are we.”

The sher­iff said Jayme was hos­pi­tal­ized overnight for ob­ser­va­tion and re­leased af­ter an exam. In­ves­ti­ga­tors were still in­ter­view­ing her, and she was “do­ing as well as cir­cum­stances al­low,” he said.

Kasin­skas called 911 to re­port the girl had been found af­ter an­other neigh­bor out walk­ing her dog en­coun­tered Jayme and brought her to Kasin­skas’ house. Min­utes later, Pat­ter­son was pulled over by a sher­iff ’s deputy, au­thor­i­ties said.

He was sched­uled for an

ini­tial court ap­pear­ance Mon­day. It was not known whether Pat­ter­son, who is un­em­ployed, had an at­tor­ney.

Jayme’s grand­fa­ther, Robert Naiberg, said he had been pray­ing for months for the call he re­ceived about his grand­daugh­ter. “I thought, ‘Good for her she es­caped,’ ” he said.

Jayme dis­ap­peared from her home near Bar­ron af­ter some­one broke in and shot her par­ents, James and Denise Closs, on Oct. 15. The sher­iff said in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve Pat­ter­son killed them in or­der to abduct the girl.

Pat­ter­son tried to avoid leav­ing ev­i­dence at the scene of the killings, tak­ing such steps as shav­ing his head be­fore­hand, the sher­iff said. A shot­gun sim­i­lar to the one used was re­cov­ered from the home where po­lice be­lieve Jayme was held, Fitzger­ald.

Prop­erty records show that the cabin be­longed to Pat­ter­son’s fa­ther at the time of Jayme’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

Pat­ter­son had no crim­i­nal record, ac­cord­ing to the sher­iff. He grad­u­ated in 2015 from North­wood High School, where he was on the quiz bowl team and was a good stu­dent with a “great group of friends,” said Dis­trict Su­per­in­ten­dent Jean Serum.

Kasin­skas said she taught Pat­ter­son sci­ence in mid­dle school, but added: “I don’t re­ally re­mem­ber a ton about him.”

The woman who first spot­ted Jayme on Thurs­day, Jeanne Nut­ter, said she was walk­ing her dog when a di­sheveled girl called out to her, grabbed her and re­vealed her name.

“I was ter­ri­fied, but I didn’t want to show her that,” said Nut­ter, a so­cial worker who spent years work­ing in child pro­tec­tion. “She just yelled, ‘Please help me! I don’t know where I am! I’m lost!’ ”

Nut­ter took her to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasin­skas. Jayme was quiet, her emo­tions “pretty flat,” Peter Kasin­skas said.

Jayme told the cou­ple she didn’t know where she was or any­thing about Gor­don, a town of about 644 peo­ple in a heav­ily forested re­gion where log­ging in the top in­dus­try. From what she told them, they be­lieved she was there for most of her dis­ap­pear­ance.

Af­ter Jayme van­ished, de­tec­tives pur­sued thou­sands of tips, watched dozens of sur­veil­lance videos and con­ducted nu­mer­ous searches. Of­fi­cials re­cruited 2,000 vol­un­teers for a huge ground search Oct. 23, but it yielded no clues.

Fitzger­ald said in Novem­ber that he kept sim­i­lar cases in the back of his mind as he worked to find Jayme, in­clud­ing the ab­duc­tion of El­iz­a­beth Smart, who was 14 when she was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. Smart was res­cued nine months later.

Smart said in a tele­phone in­ter­view that Jayme’s story is “why we can never give up hope on any miss­ing child.”

“It was only a few months ago that we as a com­mu­nity gath­ered to pray for Jayme’s safe re­turn at Bar­ron High School,” Bar­ron County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Brian Wright said at a news con­fer­ence. “God has an­swered those prayers.”

KEREM YUCEL/GETTY-AFP

Jeanne Nut­ter de­tails Fri­day how she was walk­ing her dog when Jayme Closs called out.

Closs

Pat­ter­son

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