Man Charged in Jayme Closs Kidnapping ‘Went Through Great Lengths to Take Her': Police

"The suspect had specific intention to kidnap Jayme and went through great lengths to take her," Fitzgerald said

What to Know

  • Jayme Closs, 13, went missing on Oct. 15 when police discovered someone had broken into her family's Wisconsin home and killed her parents
  • Jayme was found Thursday, walking along a rural road roughly 60 miles north of where she disappeared three months earlier
  • Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, was arrested on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping, authorities sai

A man accused of kidnapping Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs "went through great lengths to take her," police said Friday. 

Jake Thomas Patterson, a 21-year-old from Gordon, Wisconsin, had "specific intent to kidnap Jayme" and had no prior contact with her parents before the incident, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said. 

"Nothing in this case shows the suspect knew anyone at the Closs home or at any time had contact with anyone in the Closs family," Fitzgerald said. "The suspect had specific intention to kidnap Jayme and went through great lengths to take her."

Fitzgerald said a shotgun believed to be the one used to shoot open the door to the Closs' home and fatally shoot James and Denise Closs was found, but further testing needed to be done to prove it was the same weapon used in the crime. 

Patterson is expected to appear in court Monday on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping, officials said. 

Thirteen-year-old Closs escaped from the remote home where she was being held her against her will, then gave police a description of Patterson's car that enabled deputies to quickly take him into custody, authorities said earlier. 

"Jayme is the hero in this case, there's no question," Fitzgerald said. 

Police said Patterson was not home when Closs escaped and appeared to be "looking for her when law enforcement found him." 

Patterson was arrested Thursday, the same day Closs was discovered walking down a road roughly 60 miles north of where she disappeared, authorities said. Closs had been missing for 88 days, since her parents were fatally shot at their home outside Barron, Wisconsin, in October. 

"That is the will of a kid to survive, it’s the unthinkable," Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said. "It’s amazing the will of that 13-year-old girl to escape."

Fitzgerald said Closs was inside her family's home when her parents were killed and that Patterson planned his actions, then "took many proactive steps" to hide Jayme and himself from law enforcement and the public. 

Among those steps, Fitzgerald said Patterson shaved his head to avoid leaving any hair behind. 

He added that Patterson "had zero criminal history locally and zero criminal history in Wisconsin."

"I know all of you are searching for the answer to why any of this happened, believe me so are we," Fitzgerald said. 

Closs’ discovery and Patterson’s arrest brought to an end what he said was a long and difficult search for the girl, whose disappearance, coupled with her parents’ death, rocked their community. She was discovered by a social worker walking her dog who heard her cries for help and recognized her.

Jeanne Nutter told The Associated Press on Friday that she was walking her dog at around 4 p.m. along a rural road near Gordon when a disheveled teenage girl approached her and called out for help. 

Closs told Nutter her name and said she had walked away from a cabin where she'd been held captive, a cabin not far from Nutter's own home.

"I was terrified, but I didn't want to show her that," Nutter told the AP. "She just yelled please help me I don't know where I am. I'm lost."

Nutter said she didn't want to bring Closs to her nearby home because it was too close to where she'd been found, and she didn't want them to be alone. She said: "My only thought was to get her to a safe place."

The two went elsewhere in the neighborhood, to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas. Closs was skinny and dirty, wearing shoes too big for her feet, but appeared outwardly OK, the neighbors said.

"I honestly still think I'm dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost," Peter Kasinskas told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "My jaw just went to the floor."

"We've seen her face a lot so I knew it was her the second she walked in the door," Kasinskas' wife Kristin said.

"She seemed kind of in shock and kind of timid but she did talk to us a little bit and she came in and sat down in our living room and was able to have a conversation with us," Kristin Kasinskas said in a phone interview on NBC's "Today" show.

"She didn't give us a ton of details," she added. "I'd asked her if she knew where Gordon, Wisconsin, was; she did not. She did not know where Gordon was and she did not know where she was at the time."

Kristin Kasinskas said Closs told the couple the name of the person she believed had taken her. 

"I recognized the name when I was told it but not somebody I knew well by any means," Kristin Kasinskas said. "She kind of talked about being locked when this person had to leave but she did not go into any detail about how she got away."

"We kind of just talked with her, nothing too specific. She didn’t express like any fear," she continued. "She didn’t say she was afraid the person was coming after her but she did say that somebody took her, she did say that somebody killed her parents. She told us a vehicle to be watching out for."

Gordon lies about 40 miles south of Lake Superior and about 65 miles north of Barron, Jayme's hometown. The town is home to about 645 people in a heavily forested region where logging is the top industry.

Sue Allard, Closs' aunt, told the Star Tribune that she could barely express her joy after learning the news Thursday night.

"Praise the Lord," Allard said between sobs. "It's the news we've been waiting on for three months. I can't wait to get my arms around her. I just can't wait."

"When you actually hear it, it’s just unbelievable," Closs' uncle Jeff Closs said via phone interview. "We’re all just so grateful and happy. Hopefully she’s okay, we don’t really know what shape she’s in. We don’t really know a lot, all we know is she’s alive."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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