Wis­con­sin girl’s ordeal ends, but mys­tery re­mains

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Nation & World - BY TODD RICH­MOND


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, deep­en­ing a mys­tery that has cap­ti­vated the state for months.

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-year-old 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.

“He didn’t know Jayme, he didn’t know Denise or Jim,” Naiberg said. “(Jayme) don’t know him from Adam. (But) he knew what he was do­ing. We don’t know if he was stalk­ing her or what. Did he see her some­where?”

Pat­ter­son at­tor­neys Charles Glynn and Richard Jones said in a state­ment they con­sider the sit­u­a­tion “very tragic” and that they are re­ly­ing on the court sys­tem to treat their client fairly. Charges are ex­pected against Pat­ter­son on Mon­day, when he is ex­pected to make his ini­tial ap­pear­ance in court.

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 the longer she was miss­ing.

Jayme’s aunt, Jennifer Smith, posted on Face­book 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!!”

An­other aunt, Sue Naiberg Al­lard, posted that Jayme got “the most awaited hug ever” when she re­turned home.

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 neigh­bor, Kristin Kasin­skas. “She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him.”

Bar­ron County Sher­iff Chris 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 in 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 he didn’t know whether Jayme had been phys­i­cally abused.

Pat­ter­son took mea­sures to avoid leav­ing ev­i­dence at the scene, in­clud­ing shav­ing his head be­fore­hand, and a shot­gun was re­cov­ered from the home where Jayme was be­lieved held, Fitzger­ald said.

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

The cabin is in Eau

Claire Acres, a de­vel­op­ment about 10 miles (16 kilo­me­ters) out­side the tiny town of Gor­don, nes­tled in the dense ever­green forests of north­west­ern Wis­con­sin that are pop­u­lar with va­ca­tion­ers in the sum­mer and snow­mo­bil­ers and ATV rid­ers in the win­ter. Law en­force­ment bar­ri­cades blocked the road lead­ing to the prop­erty Satur­day.

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.

Pat­ter­son, who was un­em­ployed, re­mained largely an enigma Satur­day.

He has no crim­i­nal record, the sher­iff said. He worked for one day in 2016 at the same Jen­nie-O turkey plant in Bar­ron as Jayme’s par­ents. But the sher­iff said it did not ap­pear Pat­ter­son in­ter­acted with the cou­ple dur­ing his brief time there.

Over the past few months, de­tec­tives pur­sued thou­sands of tips, watched dozens of sur­veil­lance videos and con­ducted nu­mer­ous searches for Jayme, in­clud­ing one that drew 2,000 vol­un­teers but yielded no clues.

In Novem­ber, the sher­iff said 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 af­ter wit­nesses rec­og­nized her ab­duc­tors on an “Amer­ica’s Most Wanted” episode.


A photo taken Fri­day shows Jayme Closs, right, with her aunt Jennifer Smith in Bar­ron, Wis. Jayme nar­rowly man­aged to es­cape and reach safety Thurs­day as her kid­nap­per drove around look­ing for her, au­thor­i­ties said.

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