Jake Patterson was the kind of guy who hadn’t made much of an impression on the world yet. At age 21, he left behind almost no internet or social media footprint. The photos that exist of him come from his mother’s Facebook page, from his high school yearbook, and from authorities. You can see the known pictures throughout this article.
Jake Thomas Patterson didn’t have a job, according to the sheriff. He lived in a cabin his once dad owned in a secluded area of Wisconsin’s Northwoods called Gordon, population 645. He was voted most quiet student at his high school, and the most memorable thing anyone’s come up with is the fact he once belonged to the school’s quiz bowl team. He had “zero” criminal history in Wisconsin – or elsewhere, the sheriff confirmed.
Patterson was a non-entity.
Until now. Patterson now stands accused of staging one of the most bizarre crimes in Wisconsin history. Sheriff’s officials accuse him of targeting a 13-year-old girl, Jayme Closs – for unclear reasons, as they’ve found no significant connection between Patterson, Jayme or her parents. To get at her, he’s accused of shooting in the door of the Closs family home in Barron, Wisconsin, and gunning her father, James Closs, down in the doorway before shooting her mother, Denise Closs, to death elsewhere in the humble home.
A criminal complaint now accuses Patterson of concocting a plan to kidnap Jayme – a total stranger whose name he didn’t even know.
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 accuses him of murdering her parents so they couldn’t be eyewitnesses and keeping her hidden under his bed.
For almost three months, Jayme was missing and, authorities now say, she was locked and hidden away in a cabin until she staged a daring escape into the arms of a random dog walker. The dog walker called the cops, and they say they discovered Patterson out looking for her. He’s now in custody. Jayme has now been reunited with her extended family and her dog.
Here’s what you need to know:
Jake Patterson Worked at a Turkey Plant That Employed Jayme’s Parents – But Only for About a Day
The above photo is the lone family photo of Jake Patterson that has emerged. It’s from the Facebook page of his mother, Deborah Frey, who has now deleted her page. It shows Jake with Deborah and with his sister. He’s one of three children. His parents filed for divorce in 2007.
On the comment thread under it, a friend wrote, “Very nice pic!! Is Jake leaving soon?” Jake’s mother responded then, “As of now, August 17th is when he leaves,” but it wasn’t clear what she was referring to.
Daily Mail has published photos it says are the inside of the cabin where authorities allege Patterson kept Jayme.
The strongest connection between Patterson and the Closs family that authorities have released so far: The fact he worked for about a day or two three years ago at Jennie-O, the Barron, Wisconsin turkey plant where Jayme’s parents, James and Denise Closs, were veteran employees in Barron about an hour from Gordon. But the Barron County sheriff says authorities have no evidence he ever met them.
They also aren’t sure how he came across Jayme, and they don’t think it was through social media and don’t know if Patterson was allegedly stalking her. The cabin that Jayme Closs escaped from is located about an hour from Barron, the country town where she lived. She was thin, disheveled, and had matted hair when found, according to various news accounts.
Jake Patterson Didn’t Make Much of an Impact in School
Fox9 was among the news outlets to obtain photos from Jake Patterson’s high school yearbook. You can see them above. According to The Associated Press, he didn’t make much of an impression in high school; his teachers barely remember him or regarded him as quiet, AP reports, adding that he was a member of the Quiz Bowl team but that’s about it.
According to The Wisconsin Rapids Tribune and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he once indicated a desire to join the U.S. Marines and was voted the most quiet boy in his small high school class. “He seemed like he was just one of those guys in school that wanted to fit in, but couldn’t because he lacked social skills. (He) never really made an impact in any way,” a high school classmate told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which added that he didn’t go to prom, class trips, or seem interested in sports.
Another neighbor told Daily Beast that the family that associated with the suspect cabin has had run ins with law enforcement over the years. The sheriff said the suspect was arrested without incident. However, although Jake’s brother, Erik Patterson, has a criminal history, Jake does not.
Jake Patterson Is Facing Homicide & Kidnapping Charges
Authorities released three mugshots of Jake Patterson: images of him with and without glasses, and a side view. Patterson is currently being housed in the Barron County Jail. Jail records describe him as 6 foot tall and weighing 215 pounds. Here is the side view:
“I can tell you the suspect planned his actions and took many proactive steps to hide his identity from law enforcement and the general public,” District Attorney Brian Wright said. “Jayme was taken against her will and escaped from the residence at which she was being held in. We also don’t believe at this time the suspect had any contact with the family. We do believe that Jayme was the only target,” Sheriff Fitzgerald alleged.
Here’s the photo with his glasses:
According to the jail records, Jake Patterson is being held on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping.
Jayme’s rescue was one of the most dramatic returns of a missing girl since Elizabeth Smart reappeared.
“I went to her and she just sort of grabbed onto me and she told me who she was,” Jeanne Nutter, the dog walker, told USA Today. Inside the cabin nearby, for nearly three months, she was “locked up or hidden when this person had to leave,” Jayme told a neighbor who spoke to The Today Show.
The Barron County Sheriff released the suspect’s name at a morning news conference on January 11, 2019. It all began on October 15, 2018, when authorities received a cell phone call around 1 a.m. on a Monday. It came from the phone of Jayme’s mother but little but commotion could be heard. Responding in about four minutes, authorities discovered the parents’ bodies and Jayme was gone.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald revealed that Jayme was “taken against her will” and was the “only target” of the suspect, whom authorities alleged “planned his actions and took many proactive steps to hide his identity….Thank you to Jayme for having the will to survive.” Authorities added that “it appears that he concealed her from other people, such as his friends,” and the sheriff said the suspect was not previously on officials’ radar.
The sheriff praised the “will of a kid to survive” for Jayme’s escape.
Jennifer Naiberg Smith, Jayme’s aunt, wrote on January 12, 2019, “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!! We will do anything and everything!! My beloved sister Denise pooh and brother in law Jim can rest at peace and I keep assuring them Jayme is safe and we will make sure forever. We all miss them both dearly now they know there Jayme which was there whole world is home with family!! God is Good !! Bless you all!! ❤❤???”