By Shereen Siewert
BARRON, Wis. — Police have identified the man accused of kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents as 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson, a man they say meticulously planned the girl’s kidnapping.
Patterson, of Gordon, Wis., is expected to face two counts of first degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping in Barron County Circuit Court, where the homicides and alleged kidnapping took place. Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright said he expects to file a criminal complaint next week.
Patterson is accused of shooting and killing Jayme’s parents, James Closs, 56, and his wife Denise, 46, on Oct. 13, 2018 before abducting Jayme from the family’s Barron, Wis. home. No weapon was found at the scene, but police on Friday said they recovered a number of weapons at Patterson’s home after Jayme escaped. Testing is underway to determine if one of those weapons was used in the killings.
At a Friday afternoon news conference, police said Patterson went to great lengths to avoid detection both before and after killing James and Denise Closs, including shaving his head to avoid leaving evidence at the home. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Patterson hid Jayme at his rural northern Wisconsin home to conceal her from friends in the months after her abduction.
Douglas County Sheriff Thomas Dalbec said his agency received a 911 call at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10 after Jayme escaped from her captor and flagged down a woman walking her dog. The two went to a nearby home and called police, who responded “en masse” to the home. Minutes later, deputies located a vehicle matching a description given by Jayme and arrested Patterson, who is being held in the Barron County Jail.
FItzgerald said Jayme fled Patterson’s home on foot. He credited the teen’s incredible will to survive for her escape and said she is in good physical condition. After her escape, police took her to a Duluth hospital where she was examined and spent the night for observation purposes, Fitzgerald said.
Patterson has no criminal history in Wisconsin or elsewhere, police said.
“He was not on our radar,” Fitzgerald said. He confirmed that Jayme was in her family’s home when her parents were killed.
No additional suspects are being sought. Search warrants are being executed Friday at Patterson’s home and vehicles, police said.
Officials now say the suspect had no prior contact with Jayme’s parents and that the teen was the only target. Wright said Patterson planned his actions carefully and took many proactive steps to hide his identity during the investigation.
Police received more than 3,500 tips in the nearly three-month-long investigation.
The voice of Barron Area Public Schools Superintendent Diane Tremblay broke as she described how students and staff have coped in Jayme’s absence.
“What has it been like in the Barron Area School District in the past months? It has been 88 days of hope for her safe return. 88 days of prayers for Jayme, her family, friends, our students staff and community. 88 days of holding onto faith that our authorities would never give up and they certainly did not,” Tremblay said Friady. “Finally, 88 days of our close-knit community with the same goal in mind… and that was to bring Jayme home and back into our arms.”
Fitzgerald said he never gave up hope that Jayme would be found alive. Her family is requesting privacy at this time.
Tremblay said she’s been asked whether the school Jayme attends will hold a future event to celebrate Jayme’s homecoming.
“You’d better believe it,” Tremblay said.