Denise Closs & James Closs: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

denise closs

Facebook Jayme Closs (l) and her mother Denise Closs (r)

Denise Closs and her husband, James Closs, have been identified as the parents who were shot to death in a violent scene inside the family home in rural Barron, Wisconsin. Their 13-year-old daughter, Jayme Closs, was missing, and an Amber Alert was issued for the Wisconsin girl in what has turned into a perplexing mystery.

However, the Barron County Sheriff’s Department – in a surprise development – announced on January 10, 2019 that Jayme has been found alive in northern Wisconsin, and a suspect is in custody. Authorities now say the suspect is Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, and they believe that Jayme was his main target – not her parents. You can read more about Patterson here.

In a chilling 12-page criminal complaint released on January 14, 2019, authorities gave every indication that Jake Patterson allegedly acted alone. They accuse him of kidnapping Jayme after randomly seeing her getting on a school bus outside her family’s Barron home. He didn’t know her name or the names of her parents then but, the complaint alleges, “When he saw (Jayme) he knew that was the girl he was going to take.” (You can read the criminal complaint in full and get more details from it here.)

The complaint alleges that Denise Closs tried to protect her daughter until the end, enveloping her in a bear hug as they hid behind a shower curtain in the bathtub. However, the complaint accuses Jake Patterson of finding them, barging into the bathroom, and shooting Denise to death before spiriting Jayme away in a car trunk to his remote cabin, where he allegedly hid her under his bed until she escaped.

On the evening of October 15, 2018, the Barron County Sheriff identified the deceased parents as James, 56 and Denise, 46, who worked at a turkey plant together. “They are husband and wife and the mother and father of Jayme, the missing 13 year old,” Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in a statement that he posted to Facebook.

He revealed on October 17, 2018 that the parents were victims of homicide and, he said, a 911 call and evidence not released leads authorities to believe Jayme was in the home at the time.

CNN later obtained dispatch logs that revealed these additional details: The 911 call was made with the phone of Denise Closs, and the dispatcher could “hear a lot of yelling”; the front door of the home was kicked in; James Closs had answered the door; multiple rounds were “spent”; no gun was found at the scene; and the family’s dog was alive inside the residence when deputies responded.

If you drive past the home in Barron, you can see that the front door to the family’s residence is now missing. A police and volunteer search of the ditches along the highway from Barron to Turtle Lake, Wis., didn’t turn up anything of value to the investigation.

jayme closs

FacebookJayme Closs in a photo on her mother’s Facebook page.

“We don’t know how far she (Jayme) could have gone or if someone took her,” said Sheriff Fitzgerald before Jayme was located. “We don’t know the answer to that. We just know we have a violent crime scene and a missing 13-year-old girl.” He added: “I’m struggling with this, because I don’t have some of the answers that I want to give you and give the family.”

Here’s the Sheriff’s full statement about Jayme being found:

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Denise Closs Posted Many Photos of Jayme Closs on Facebook, Calling Her a ‘Kind-Hearted Girl’ & Authorities Haven’t Identified a Suspect

denise closs

Denise Closs

On Facebook, Denise’s page is filled with photos of Jayme and other family members, including odes to her parents. The pictures show family-oriented activities, such as time at a pumpkin patch.

In July 2017, she wrote of Jayme, “Happy Birthday to My Daughter Jayme Closs who is Growing up to be the Sweetest and most kind Hearted Girl…Love you to the Moon And Back..Hope you Have the Best Day Ever…” Jayme responded in the thread, writing, “Thank you for Awesome Birthday Mom …and Thank you Aunt Sue for Everything. love you all…”

Denise Closs also wrote a lot about missing her own mother. In June, Denise created a fundraiser on Facebook for the American Cancer Society, writing, “Why I Relay. Cancer has affected so many people I know and love that it’s inspired me to join Relay For Life. This fundraiser is a community-based event, which means no two Relays are the same, but they all support the American Cancer Society’s mission.”

Denise wrote with a photo of Jayme and an older male relative: “Live ..Laugh ..Love..” In 2016, Denise wrote that Jayme was starting 6th grade.

Her top post is about a deceased relative. It reads, “Happy Birthday in Heaven Aunt claudette..hope your dancing with all the other angels…?” Now that comment thread is filled with people offering prayers for Denise’s family in the wake of the deaths.

Relative Seara Closs wrote on Facebook:

It looks like we had a signature pose when we took pictures together Miss Jayme Closs:) I didn’t even realize we did that, until this very moment, while I’m going thru our family pictures, worrying sick about you:( wishing we could trade places just to get you home and out of harms way:( I think it’s clear that I loved scooping you up in my arms from the beginning. (Where grandpa didn’t know he got caught staring at you) our picture technique together was a perfect Balance, of your wonderful shyness and my obnoxious boldness…. ? I’ll be waiting for our next scooped picture my love!!!!! Don’t forget you have some seriously bad ass guardian angels with you now and always baby girl! Grandpa Jim (James) Closs, your Momma Bear, Denise Closs and your very own night and shinning armor, your Daddyo Jim JR Closs….love all of you!!!take care of her guys, until we get her home and safe, then we can take over from our end!!!!

She also shared a series of family photos.

Authorities have been very cryptic about what they release in the case. Fitzgerald says that’s because there are so many unknowns. They don’t have a motive. They don’t know if the murders were random or targeted. They don’t have a suspect. They don’t have a suspect vehicle description. They didn’t even release a working theory in the case, including specifying whether they think Jayme was abducted.

In a late afternoon news conference, the sheriff said he does not know if Jayme was with a stranger, someone she knows or is on her own.

In press conferences on October 16 and 17, 2018, Fitzgerald did not provide many additional details, other than the parents’ cause of deaths.

“Her parents died from gunshot wounds. That’s why we are ruling this a homicide. There was no gun found on the scene,” Fitzgerald said. “We believe Jayme was home based on the evidence in our case. Some of it from that 911 call and some of it is part of the active investigation, and we’re not able to comment on why we believe that.”

Asked whether the murders were targeted or random, he said: “I wish I was closer to that question….I don’t know that answer.”

He asked the public to continue providing tips, and to report anyone changing their behavior, such as changes to appearance or suddenly going out of town.

“Every second counts in this case,” said the sheriff. He declined to detail what authorities think happened in the house, saying only that there was a “disturbance” inside it. He repeated that “Jayme is missing and endangered.” Asked if it was possible she ran away, he said, “That would be part of the investigation.” He said police “redid” the crime scene with the state crime lab to make sure they didn’t miss anything.

“We want to bring Jayme home. That’s the main point,” Fitzgerald stressed.

They received a 911 call from the home, which led to the bodies’ discovery, but they don’t know who made that call, Fitzgerald revealed. He said it was made with a cell phone. Asked by a reporter if the word “help” could be heard on the 911 call, the sheriff responded, “I don’t know if the word help was said. I can’t comment on that.”

However, on the evening of October 15, 2018, the Miami Police Department tweeted that Jayme might have been seen in Miami, Florida, writing, “Endangered Juvenile, Jayne Closs from Barron, WI, may have been seen in the afternoon of 10/15/18, in the area of N.W. 27 Ave and 11 St. If it was her, she was in a black Ford Explorer with a possible WI plate of I60WER. If you have any information please call 911 immediately.” (Although Miami police gave the missing girl’s name as Jayne, it’s spelled Jayme.) It’s not clear how seriously Wisconsin authorities are taking the report or how Jayme could have made it so far so fast (Barron is located about 25 hours from Miami).

Local10 Miami gave additional details on the report: “Jayme Closs might have been seen at a gas station along Northwest 27th Avenue and Northwest 11th Street. The person who reported it said she was with two men in their 30s who were about 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-9, weighing about 200 to 250 pounds and had beards. That same witness told police the black Ford Explorer they were in had a Wisconsin license plate tag of I60 WER.”

According to KARE 11, “The tipster reportedly told police two well-dressed, Middle Eastern men were inside the SUV. Officers say the tipster said the men were in their 30s, roughly 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-9 and 200 to 250 pounds. They both reportedly had beards.”

However, as noted, authorities in Wisconsin now discount that report and say it is not credible.

“Our deputies on scene. This is a tough scene. And they’re frustrated,” said Sheriff Fitzgerald in the news conference. “…It’s just a different scene for us. We don’t have a suspect. We don’t have any leads right now. We’re working very diligently right now to get those leads. We’re working with other agencies.” He encouraged the public to share Jayme’s photo.

The sheriff said authorities don’t know who placed the 911 call because no one had contact with the 911 dispatchers. “We don’t know the answer to that,” he said, indicating that dispatchers “heard background noise. We are processing that.”

The Sheriff released the parents’ names hours after the bodies were found.

According to the Amber Alert website, on Monday, October 15, 2018 at 12:53 a.m., a 911 call was received from Barron, Wisconsin.  Authorities subsequently found the girl’s parents dead, but Jayme was missing.

The sheriff says authorities know whose cell phone made that call but would not release that information. He said he doesn’t know if Jayme had a boyfriend. According to CNN, Fitzgerald revealed on Ashleigh Banfield’s television show that authorities recovered the cell phone.

2. James & Denise Closs Worked at a Turkey Plant in Barron

Both James and Denise Closs worked at Jennie-O, which is a turkey plant in Barron, a town of about 3,300 people located in rural, northwestern Wisconsin.

Jennie-O is a major employer in the small community. O”ur thoughts are with the Closs family and the entire Barron community,” said a statement from Jennie-O.”This is a difficult time for our entire team and we are mourning this loss and are still processing this terrible tragedy. We are also hopeful for the safe return of their daughter, Jayme, and are keeping her and the Closs family in our thoughts.”

Denise Closs had no Wisconsin criminal history, a review of Wisconsin court records shows. The only thing that comes up is a money judgment civil case from 2011. James Closs also appears to have no criminal history. The only thing that comes up for James Closs of Barron is a 1998 divorce.

jayme closs

Jayme Closs

Sheriff Fitzgerald reiterated in the news conference that he wasn’t clear what happened yet: “That is the confusing part of this case. We don’t have any leads at this time on what really took place at that house,” he said, repeating several times that authorities are vexed by the case.

He added: “We don’t have a suspect or a vehicle,” explaining a delay in issuing an Amber Alert.

He said that the FBI had arrived on the scene along with the state Department of Criminal Investigation. “We have got to find some leads,” he said.

According to Sheriff Fitzgerald, Jayme Closs was seen at a family gathering on Sunday October 15, 2018.

A massive law enforcement effort is underway to locate the missing teen, involving drones and infrared techniques, and the FBI has joined in the search, flooding the town. So far, the girl’s disappearance – and her parents’ violent deaths – remain a mystery in the rural northern Wisconsin town as authorities are saying very little about the circumstances. That’s because, they say, they have no real leads.

On December 6, 2018, the sheriff released a few additional details: He told DailyMailTV that the killer was in the house for four minutes, stepping only five feet inside, left only bullet casings behind, and nothing was disturbed or taken. The killer did not leave behind forensic evidence.

“I haven’t seen anything like this in rural western Wisconsin,” Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in an October 16, 2018 news conference. “We just don’t see this thankfully.” By October 19, authorities had stopped holding daily news conferences and were pleading for people to come forward if anyone they know shows changes in behavior.

Authorities released updated pictures of Jayme Closs:

jayme closs

FacebookJayme Closs

Miami police said a witness claims to possibly have seen Jayme at a gas station in Miami, Florida. However, the Wisconsin sheriff said at a later news conference that the Miami report is not considered credible and was released without consultation with Wisconsin officials. He said on October 17, 2018 that there have been no credible sightings of the middle school student known for her love of dance and her cross country running. It’s as if Jayme Closs had simply vanished into thin air.

3. Jayme Closs Wrote That She Loved Dancing & Sports & Gunshots Were Involved in the Closs Deaths

Jayme Closs, despite her young age, also has a Facebook page.

“I love to dance at Christine’s Dance Jazz, ice-skating, valleyball (sic), swim, Art, cross country, Track, Dance,” Jayme wrote on her Facebook page, which she filled with photos of herself with a middle school sports team and in dance outfits.

Diane Tremblay, the administrator of the Barron Area School District, said in a news conference that Jayme Closs is a “sweet girl who is a loyal friend and loves to dance” and is a member of the cross country team.

She recalled how a school assignments asked Jayme what she would do with $1 million and Jayme answered that she would “feed the hungry and give the rest to the poor.”

The Sheriff said of Jayme: “Right now, she’s missing and endangered. She’s not listed as a suspect. And as of now, we are just focused on finding a 13-year-old scared girl.”

The sheriff said he didn’t believe the public was in immediate danger “that we know of.”

“We have a lot of unknowns in this case,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s the frustrating part in the law enforcement world, the unknowns we’re hitting in this case. So, to say the public is not in danger, I cannot say that.” But he said authorities didn’t know of any other threats in the area.

He added: “I can tell you there were two victims at the residence. Gunshots were involved. I am not ready to rule how they died at this time. The deceased are the mother and father of Jayme.”

A neighbor told WISN-TV that they heard gunshots. Fitzgerald eventually revealed the parents were shot. Joan Smrekar, a neighbor, told Banfield “she heard two shots just after 12:30 a.m. Monday a couple of seconds apart,” reported CNN.

“It was just, ‘bang’ and ‘bang,'” Smrekar said, according to CNN.

4. A Relative Called the Family Happy-Go-Lucky

Ed Downing Sr., a relative, told NBC News the family is in “disbelief.”

“It was just unbelievable, unbelievable. How can this be happening to us? To a small community like that, you know. It’s unreal,” he told NBC News, adding that the family was “happy-go-lucky.”

Of Denise and Jayme, Downing told NBC, “They got along exceptionally good and the daughter Jayme, she’s such a bright, intelligent … always got a big smile on her face like her mother,” he said. “They always seemed like everything was going great for them, and I was always happy about that.”

People have been leaving comments on a fundraiser page. “I met Denise and Jayme through organizing a benefit for a mutual friend. Both were so kind, giving and had such a gentle demeanor. Denise went above and beyond with preparations for the event, and Jayme made something for my children who she’d never met ❤️” wrote one woman.

Authorities are concerned about Jayme Closs’s safety for obvious reasons because of her parents’ deaths. They searched the area around the family home with drones and infrared technology to try to find Jayme to no avail.

According to Sheriff Fitzgerald, “We’ve searched the area around the residence to make sure she didn’t just go outside and go to the woods. We’ve used drones. We’ve used infrared. We’ve searched…the area around there. We’ve searched the school. We’ve met with the friends. We’re working very closely with the… middle school where she attends school. We have officers there today.”

He said authorities have also asked for the general community’s help in case they’ve seen Jayme.

“Upon arrival law enforcement found 2 adults deceased, and their 13 year old daughter, Jayme Closs, missing, and is considered endangered,” the Amber Alert says. “Anyone with information about her whereabouts or anyone that has contact with her is asked to contact the tipline at 1-855-744-3879. For up-to-date information, visit” Here is the Amber Alert details on that website.

No clothing description for Closs was provided. According to WBAY-TV and the Associated Press, it’s believed Jayme Closs was taken from her home by “unknown individual(s), likely with a gun.” However, the sheriff, in his news conference, stopped short of saying for sure that the girl was abducted.

A missing poster circulating for Jayme reiterates that she is not considered a suspect (something the sheriff also said) and that authorities found a “violent crime scene.”

5. Authorities Say Finding Jayme Closs Safe Is Their Only Goal Right Now & a Family Member Describes Her as Sweet & Shy

A relative wrote a frantic post on Facebook about Jayme Closs.” Please ?please ?please ? help! This is my 13-year-old cousin, her parents were shot to death this morning in Barron County Wisconsin and she is missing. She has blonde hair green eyes. Her name is Jayme, she is sweet and shy and we need to get her back!” she wrote.

“At the end of the end of the day, I want a 13-year-old here safe and sound. That’s our goal. That’s our only goal right now,” Fitzgerald said at the press conference.

Fitzgerald’s earlier press release for October 15, 2018, before he named Denise and James Closs, says:

“On Monday October 15, 2018 at 12:58am the Barron County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call from a subject asking for help at 1268 Hwy 8.

When deputies arrived on scene they found two deceased adults. A 13 year old female is missing from the residence and is considered missing and endangered.

The juvenile is Jayme Closs, age 13, 5 feet tall, 100 pounds, green eyes and Blond or Strawberry hair. Anyone with information about her possible whereabouts or anyone that has contact with Jayme is asked to contact the Barron County Sheriff’s Department at 715-537-3106 immediately.

This is all the information we have at this time and more information will be released later this afternoon or as needed by law enforcement to assist with this case.”

The Amber Alert websites also provide the following information about Jayme Closs:

Missing Since
Oct 15, 2018

Missing From
Barron, WI

Age Now
13 years




100 lbs

Eye color

Blonde/strawberry blonde/straight

This article is being updated as more information is learned about Denise and James Closs and about the disappearance of Jayme Closs.

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