Man ar­rested in teen girl’s ab­duc­tion, par­ents’ deaths

The News-Times - - NATION/WORLD -

BAR­RON, Wis. — A 21-yearold 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 out 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 an all­out 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.”

The sher­iff 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 did not know if Jayme had been phys­i­cally abused but that she 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 based on a de­scrip­tion of his vehicle Jayme pro­vided, au­thor­i­ties said.

He was sched­uled for an ini­tial court ap­pear­ance Mon­day. It was not im­me­di­ately known whether the un­em­ployed Pat­ter­son 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, the sher­iff said.

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

Pat­ter­son worked for one day in 2016 at the same Jen­nie-O tur­key plant in Bar­ron as Jayme’s par­ents, Jen­nie-O Tur­key Store Pres­i­dent Steve Lykken said. Pat­ter­son quit the next day, say­ing he was mov­ing from the area, Lykken said. But the sher­iff said it did not ap­pear Pat­ter­son in­ter­acted with them dur­ing his brief time work­ing there.

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.”

“He seemed like a quiet kid,” she said. “I don’t re­call any­thing that would have ex­plained this, by any means.”

The woman who first spot­ted Jayme on Thurs­day, Jeanne Nut­ter, said she was walk­ing her dog along a ru­ral road 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,” Nut­ter, a so­cial worker who spent years work­ing in child pro­tec­tion, told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “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 is 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 after wit­nesses rec­og­nized her ab­duc­tors from an “Amer­ica’s Most Wanted” episode.

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.”

Jean Pieri / As­so­ci­ated Press

Bar­ron County Sher­iff Chris Fitzger­ald holds up the book­ing photo of Jake Thomas Pat­ter­son, who al­legedly kid­napped Jayme Closs, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Fri­day in Bar­ron, Wis. Closs, a 13-year-old north­west­ern Wis­con­sin girl who went miss­ing in Oc­to­ber after her par­ents were killed, was found alive in the ru­ral town of Gor­don, Wis., about about 60 miles north of her home in Bar­ron. In­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve Pat­ter­son, who was taken into cus­tody shortly after Closs was found, killed her par­ents be­cause he wanted to abduct her.

Kerem Yu­cel / AFP / Getty Images

A “Wel­come Home Jayme” sign dis­played for Jayme Closs on Fri­day in Bar­ron, Wis., one day after the miss­ing teenager was found com­ing out of nearby woods with her hair mat­ted and wear­ing over­sized shoes.

Getty Images

Jayme Closs

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