Jake Patterson, the 21-year-old Gordon, Wisconsin man accused of abducting teenager Jayme Closs, is an enigma: A quiet former high school quiz bowl team member who wasn’t holding a job, didn’t have a visible social media presence, didn’t have an obvious strong link to the Closs family, didn’t have a criminal history, and lived in a cabin in the Northwoods.
However, a new criminal complaint paints an absolutely terrifying scene of a man accused of abducting a teenager he’d never met and didn’t know – simply because he once spotted her getting on a school bus. (You can read the criminal complaint in full and get more details from it here.)
In a chilling 12-page criminal complaint released on January 14, 2019, authorities accuse Patterson 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.”
The complaint then paints a chilling scene in which Patterson is accused of murdering Jayme’s father in the doorway, and then tracking down the girl and her mother, who were hiding behind the shower curtain in the bathroom tub – Denise Closs holding her daughter in a bear hug – before he used duct tape to restrain Jayme and then shot and killed Denise, who had tried in vain to call 911. The complaint alleges that Patterson then locked Jayme in a trunk, missing responding police squads by just a few seconds as they passed him on the highway. He is accused of taking her to his family’s remote cabin, where he hid her under his twin bed, even when family members – such as his father – came over to visit.
“On his drive to the cheese factory on one of the two mornings he worked there, he had stopped behind a school bus on U.S. Hwy. 8 where he watched (Jayme Closs) get on a school bus. The defendant stated he had no idea who she was nor did he know who lived at the house or how manypeople lived at the house.” They had no previous contact on social media, the complaint alleges.
The strongest connection between Patterson and the Closs family that authorities have released so far: The fact he worked for about a day at Jennie-O, the Barron, Wisconsin turkey plant where Jayme’s parents, James and Denise Closs, were veteran employees. But the Barron County sheriff says authorities have no evidence he ever met them.
Jayme was discovered in a wooded area near Gordon, which is about an hour from Barron, after she fled a cabin into the arms of a dog walker, who rushed the thin and disheveled middle school student to safety. “The report I got is he was sitting in his cell — lookin’ at the wall, all by himself,” said the sheriff.
“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.
Jayme’s aunt shared this photo of Jayme, the aunt, and Jayme’s dog after their reunion.
The Barron County Sheriff released the suspect’s name at a morning news conference on January 11, 2019. He’s charged in the murders of Jayme’s parents – Denise and James Closs – and with kidnapping Jayme. His full name is Jake Thomas Patterson. He is from a family with longstanding ties to the Gordon area in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
It all began on October 15, 2018, when authorities received a 48-second 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, “yelling or maybe a scream.” Responding to the humble Closs residence in tiny Barron, Wisconsin, they discovered the front door damaged and bodies of Denise and James Closs, turkey plant workers who were mercilessly shot to death, James in the doorway and Denise elsewhere in the residence. Their middle-school-aged daughter, Jayme – who ran on the cross country team and was known for her love of dancing – was gone. For 88 days, she remained so.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jayme Closs Ran Up to a Dog Walker in Too-Big Shoes & Patterson Is Accused of Shaving His Head to Avoid Leaving Behind Trace Evidence
The sheriff praised the “will of a kid to survive” for Jayme’s escape. The photo above is from Jake Thomas Patterson’s mother’s Facebook page in 2015. On the comment thread under it, a friend wrote, “Very nice pic!! Is Jake leaving soon?” His mother responded then, “As of now, August 17th is when he leaves,” but it wasn’t clear what she was referring to. CNN’s Pentagon reporter has learned he washed out of US Marines boot camp that year after 30 days, however.
Daily Mail has published photos it says are the inside of the cabin where authorities allege Patterson kept Jayme.
According to the criminal complaint, Patterson was interviewed and confessed to killing James and Denise Closs. He said that he worked at Saputo Cheese Factory, south of Almena, for two days before quitting.
“On his drive to the cheese factory on one of the two mornings he worked there, he had stopped behind a school bus on U.S. Hwy. 8 where he watched (Jayme Closs) get on a school bus. The defendant stated he had no idea who she was nor did he know who lived at the house or how many people lived at the house.”
“When he saw (Jayme) he knew that was the girl he was going to take.”
On what he thought to be his second and last day of employment, he purchased a black colored balaclava type mask from Walmart in Rice Lake. This was part of his plan to conceal his identity, says the complaint.
The complaint further accuses:
He drove to the Closs home twice with the intent to kidnap Jayme prior to October 15, 2018.
Several days before quitting the cheese factory, and about a week to 1 1/2 weeks before he went through with the plan, he drove to the Closs home and noticed the lights were on and people were walking around so he decided not to do it then.
He said he “put quite a bit of thought” into how he would abduct Jayme.
On one of the nights, prior to his third trip to the Closs home, he stole the license plates off a vehicle parked in a yard.
Prior to arriving at the Closs home, he stopped on a side road somewhere east of Barron and removed the front and rear license plate from his car and made other modifications – he removed and disconnected the dome light in the vehicle so it wouldn’t illuminate his presence and removed the trunk light and what he described “as the glow in the dark kidnapping cord from the trunk” so that “no one could pull the trunk release once inside.”
He took his father’s 12-gauge Mossberg pump shotgun which he described as having a black stock. He had done research and assumed it would be difficult to trace because it was one of the most heavily manufactured or owned shotguns.
He felt that a 12-gauge slug “would inflict the most damage on someone and would most likely be the best choice of shell and weapon to kill someone versus a rifle.”
He wiped down the shells while wearing gloves and cleaned and wiped down the shotgun while wearing gloves so there would be no fingerprints or DNA on either of them. He wanted to make sure there were no fingerprints or DNA on the shotgun, the complaint says.
He shaved his face and all his head hair off and showered before leaving his house so “that he would not leave any DNA or hair at the scene.”
He was wearing brown colored steel toed work boots and regular blue jeans and had on a black colored jacket and a black colored balaclava mask on. He was wearing two pair of gloves on his hands.
He shut off his headlights and coasted into the end of the driveway. He noticed James standing in the large picture window. James had a flashlight and was shining it outside. He hollered for James to get on the ground.
He pounded on the wooden door.
He saw James looking outside through the small glass window. James made some comment like show me your badge and he assumed James thought he was the police. He raised the shotgun and purposely aimed at James’ head and pulled the trigger. James collapsed to the ground.
He used his shoulder and tried to break the door open but was unable to do so. He shot a second round toward the doorknob.
He knew James was dead and stepped over his body. He brought a kitchen type knife and flashlight.
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!! ❤❤???”
Although he’s left almost no online footprint and few deep impressions on those who knew him casually, Jake Patterson is accused of carefully eluding capture by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for almost three months, managing to leave behind little trail and allegedly spiriting a traumatized teen into a remote cabin while her picture was blasted across the country via heavy news media attention and an Amber Alert.
“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.
In a second press conference, Sheriff Fitzgerald revealed more details: Jayme was reunited her aunt. A shotgun was recovered but will be analyzed by the state Crime Lab. Fitzgerald said a gun was also used to shoot open the door at the Closs home on the night of the incident. It was not kicked in as was previously reported in dispatch records.
According to the sheriff, Patterson is accused of taking steps to change his physical appearance, “like shaving his head not to leave hair behind. Nothing in this case shows the suspect knew anyone in the Closs home..the suspect had specific intentions to kidnap Jayme.”
The suspect was not home when Jayme escaped. “We believe the suspect was out looking for her,” the sheriff said, when authorities found him. “I know all of you are searching for the answer of why any of this happened…so are we,” said Fitzgerald. “We don’t believe there was a social media connection.” He said it wasn’t clear yet how the suspect even knew about Jayme, though, and that’s under investigation.
The sheriff said that Patterson “does have a tie to Barron County” and that turned out to be his brief employment at the turkey plant that dominates the country town’s landscape. Her murdered parents were not his goal, he repeated. He said it appears that Jayme was held in only one area but that was still being investigated.
It’s now been revealed that Patterson once worked at the Jennie-O turkey plant that also employed Jayme’s parents. According to WISN-TV, he worked at the Barron company for one day about three years ago and then quit, saying he was moving out of the area. Sheriff Fitzgerald said it didn’t appear Patterson had any contact with Jayme’s parents when he briefly worked at the turkey plant.
Fitzgerald said that the suspect had “no contact” with the Closs parents. According to the Douglas County Sheriff, Jake Patterson was taken into custody after a law enforcement officer spotted his car based on a description Jayme gave authorities after she escaped. Jake Patterson is in the Barron County Jail and is 21-years-old. Property records reviewed by Heavy show that family members have property in the area of wooded cabins where Jayme was found.
Here’s another mugshot of him:
The disappearance of Jayme coupled with the brutal murders of her parents drew a massive law enforcement and community response, with the FBI in town, to Barron. But Gordon, where Jayme was found, was not an area of focus. According to KARE 11, Jayme was found at Eau Claire Acres, “a small development about six miles east of Gordon, Wisconsin on Highway Y.” It’s a rural area clustered with cabins.
You can watch the press conference announcing Patterson’s name here:
There was only an 11-minute gap between when Jayme was located alive and the suspect was caught.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin also confirmed that she was found in the Town of Gordon, a community of 645 people, saying in a statement, “The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office confirms that Barron County missing person JAYME CLOSS was located alive in the Town of Gordon in Douglas County at 4:43pm and a suspect was taken into custody at 4:54pm, also in the Town of Gordon.”
KTSP-TV reported through a source that Jayme “walked up to a woman walking her dog in Douglas County Thursday afternoon, screaming that a man had murdered her parents.” Authorities have now essentially confirmed that account.
Kristin Kasinskas, a teacher who lives nearby (and once taught Patterson in science, remembering him as quiet), told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that her neighbor walking a dog “frantically knocked” on Kasinskas’s door around 4 p.m. on January 10.
“Standing with her was a skinny, dirty girl with matted hair, wearing shoes too big for her feet,” the Star Tribune reported. “This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!” the neighbor said to Kasinskas, according to the newspaper, which said that Jayme was described as quiet with emotions that were “pretty flat.” The family tried to calm her with their puppy and offered her water and food, but she didn’t take it, the newspaper reported.
Her husband said Jayme told them she didn’t know Patterson and added that Patterson “would sometimes have people over and hide her so they wouldn’t see her,” KTSP-TV reported.
The Daily Beast reported that Jeanne Nutter, the dog walker who found Jayme, owns a cabin with her husband, Forrest, in the area, and is a social worker. Nutter told KTSP that Jayme was wearing “slacks and shoes that didn’t appear to be hers, as well as a baggy sweatshirt.”
“The girl just came out of the woods,” Forrest Nutter, her husband, and a retired law enforcement officer, told The Daily Beast. “She [Jeanne] kept her composure and took the girl to a safe place and called the sheriff’s department. She called and said they found Jayme and she was going to the hospital.” He added of his wife: “It was really very stressful for her and she is not up to talking about it.”
“My aunt found her running through the woods,” a Facebook user earlier claimed, adding that the family was told not to say anything until the suspect was caught. That user wrote that Jayme identified herself by her name.
Jeanne Nutter told the Star Tribune newspaper that Jayme “came up to me and said she wanted help.” She said she thought she knew who Jayme was, but then Jayme provided her name, the Star Tribune reported.
A KTSP journalist gave more details of that in a live broadcast, saying that a teenage girl came running up to the dog walker, screaming for help, and saying she was in trouble. She said a man had murdered her parents. She wasn’t physically hurt. It was a rural, wildlife area. Authorities then quickly set up a perimeter in the area.
2. Jayme’s Family Didn’t Recognize the Suspect’s Name & Jake Patterson Has No Criminal History
Online records show the Patterson parents divorced in 2007 and at least one other member of the family has a felony drug dealing history in Wisconsin. At the time of the divorce, the father gave his address as S. Eau Claire Acres Circle, which is the area surrounding the cluster of cabins where Jayme was found. Jake Patterson does not have any obvious social media accounts.
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.
“We needed a break in this case,” said Justin Tolomeo, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Milwaukee Division, at the press conference. “It was Jayme herself who gave us that break.”
Court records do not show a previous criminal history in Wisconsin for Jake Thomas Patterson. The sheriff confirmed that Patterson has zero criminal history in Wisconsin or elsewhere. Patterson’s mother mostly posts positive things about her family. On Facebook, she posted one photo of herself with a bow and arrow, writing, “Life is Beauty & Full!!! Do what you love; love what you do!” She also posted religious and inspirational graphics on Facebook. “Real men love a very real God…” she wrote with one post. She’s since deleted her Facebook page. One for Jake Patterson could not be found.
Patterson’s brother, whose Facebook page said he’d moved to Colorado and worked at Subway, has a criminal history for fourth-degree sexual assault and felony drug dealing, Wisconsin court records show. The Sheriff said that history is being studied after a tip came in on it. However, he said Jake Patterson is the only suspect being looked at.
Jake Patterson has now been booked into the Barron County Jail. That record gives the following information for him:
Birth Year: 1997
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown
“It’s amazing. That comes from the hope and the prayers,” the sheriff said about Jayme’s escape. “She was recognized immediately.”
Forrest Nutter, the dog walker’s husband, told Daily Beast that the suspect “is one of only a few people who live in Eau Claire Acres year-round.” The small community of Gordon is located just over an hour from Barron, the town where Jayme disappeared and where her parents were murdered. It’s a tiny community with just over 600 people located in Douglas County, the far northern reaches of the State of Wisconsin.
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.
One local reporter says the sheriff told him that Jayme’s family didn’t recognize the suspect’s name.
Reporter Paul Blume, of Fox 9, wrote on Twitter: “Just off phone with Sheriff. Says #JaymeCloss found near Duluth. MN area. He was overcome with emotion. Tells (me) 1 suspect in custody. But believes more people involved. Family was told suspect name. But they don’t know the guy. Press briefing tomorrow 10am in Barron #findjayme.” However, on January 11, the sheriff gave no indication of any other suspects, focusing entirely on Jake Patterson and indicating he allegedly concealed Jayme from people close to him.
Here is the full statement that the Barron County Sheriff’s Department released on the evening of January 10, 2019:
Jayme Closs has been located
On Thursday evening the Barron County Sheriff’s Department was notified by the Douglas CO WI Sheriff’s Department that they had located Jayme Closs alive.
Shortly after this a suspect was taken into custody in regards to this case. We do not any other details at this time as this is a very fluid and active investigation. We will not be answering any questions or taking calls on this tonight.
We are planning a press briefing approximately 10 am tomorrow at the Sheriff’s Department in Barron. We are receiving support from the FBI and WI DCI agents as this investigation continues.
We want to thank the Douglas Co Sheriff’s Department and agencies assisting them tonight. We also want to thank all the Law Enforcement agencies across the state and county that have assisted us in this case. We also could not have endured this case without the support of the public and I want to thank them for all the support and help.
Finally we want to especially thank the family for their support and patience while this case was ongoing. We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!
This case has been very trying on the family so please respect their privacy and we reunite them later tonight.
Here’s the sheriff’s post on Facebook:
Two and a half hours before the above statement, the sheriff had written, “Jayme Closs has NOT been located-this is false news. There is a heavy law enforcement presence near Walworth Co but it is not related to Jayme Closs.” However, again, the statement about her being found alive was posted at about 8 p.m. – several hours after the false news comment. Walworth County is nowhere near Barron or Douglas Counties. It’s in the southeast part of the state.
The Douglas County Sheriff also wrote on Facebook, “I am very pleased to announce that Jayme Closs was located late this afternoon within Douglas County. I cannot release anymore details at this time as the investigation is ongoing. Great job to the members of the DGSO who helped in locating Jayme and the citizen who phoned in the information.”
Channel 58 in Milwaukee reported that about five law enforcement agencies were at the Walworth property for a day. According to Fox 6 Milwaukee, in that case, two bodies were found in a burn pit, according to sources. The supposed Walworth link to Jayme Closs was posted by the Back the Blue Facebook page, which later deleted it and revealed, “The post regarding Jayme, we were given incorrect information earlier. We knew Jayme was alive but was given wrong information on the location. The post was also posted premature by a former admin.” The Barron sheriff now says the two cases are not connected.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald confirmed on January 11, 2019 that Patterson was in custody. He 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. You can see a photo of Jake with his mother and sister later in this article. Jayme’s escape was one of the most dramatic returns of a missing girl since Elizabeth Smart and the three young women held in Cleveland.
Elizabeth Smart posted a statement on Instagram that read in part, “What a miracle!!! Jayme Closs has been found!!!! I’m so thrilled to hear the news. What has been such a heart wrenching tragedy finally has some happiness in the story. I’m praying for Jayme and all her family that they can have a joyous reunion and as the rest of the country celebrates alongside this happy occasion we all are mindful to give the family their space and privacy on their road to finding a new sense of normal and moving forward…What a brave, strong, and powerful survivor!!!!”
3. Jake Thomas Patterson Is Unemployed & Was Once Caught Siphoning Gas, Reports Allege
A few details about Jake Patterson’s background were released. For example, Sheriff Fitzgerald said the suspect was unemployed.
Neighbor Daphne Ronning told USA Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “Patterson’s parents moved to the home about 15 years ago and that Jake and his brother were raised there and attended Minong High School.” She told the newspaper that the parents moved to a different home but Jake Patterson and his brother stayed in their childhood residence.
“We had some problems with them when they were teenagers – we caught them siphoning gas,” Ronning said to the newspaper. “My husband talked with them and there was never anything else.” Although the brother’s Facebook page says he moved to another state, it’s not clear whether he returned. The mother’s address in the divorce case was given as Minong, which is only about 11 miles from Gordon.
Another local, Patricia Osborne, claimed to the Star Tribune that Patterson had “stolen stuff before. They’ve been in foster care.”
The complaint continues to describe what Patterson allegedly told police.
He noticed the door straight ahead was shut. The door was locked and barricaded and he kicked it and shouldered it several times trying to forcibly break it open. It took him 10-15 hits with his shoulder blade before it burst open and he entered the bathroom. The bathroom curtain was shut and he ripped it off the rod and threw it on the floor. Denise and Jayme were seated in the bathtub, Denise with her arms wrapped around Jayme in a bear hug.
He pulled a piece of duct tape and handed it to Denise and told her to place the tape over Jayme’s mouth. She was struggling to do that. He took the tape and wrapped it around Jayme’s mouth and completely around her head. He then had Jayme stand up and placed tape around her wrists and ankles.
He removed Jayme from the bathtub. He picked up the shotgun, aimed for Denise’s head and pulled the trigger. “The defendant stated he aimed for Denise’s head because he knew that head shots were the best way to kill a person,” alleges the complaint.
He had the shotgun in one hand and dragged Jayme out of the house. He nearly slipped in the blood on the floor. He dragged Jayme into his trunk, locked it shut, and removed the mask and started to drive towards Barron. He had only driven 20 seconds from the house when he yielded to three passing squad cars traveling west towards the house.
He was “determined he was going to take Jayme that night and was going to kill anyone in the house because he could not leave any eyewitnesses behind.”
He said he would have shot at the police if they had stopped him. He was only in the Closs home for about four minutes total. When, he got to his house in Gordon, he knew that Jayme was extremely scared, and she was crying. She had urinated on herself and her clothing was wet.
He made her change into his sister’s pajamas. He threw her clothing and his gloves into a wood fireplace.
He kept Jayme at his house by creating a space under his twin bed, which is 2 and a half feet off the ground.
When he left, he would slide the plastic totes up against the side of the bed so Jayme couldn’t come out. There were two occasions when he thought she tried to get out from under the bed, at least, and he had struck a wall and screamed a lot to the point where he knew she was scared and she knew that she better never try that again.
She knew that she was not to leave the bedroom without him. Because of his “anger outburst,” she did as told.
At Christmas, he went to Superior to visit one of his grandparents and was gone for 12 hours. He told Jayme that she had to hold it if she had to go to the bathroom, the complaint continues to allege.
When his father came to the house on Saturdays, he would make Jayme go under the bed and turn up the radio in his room.
He initially kept a loaded shotgun near a door outside his room in case the police came. After two weeks, he removed the shells and put them in a drawer.
He drew a diagram of the Closs home.
The day he was arrested, he told Jayme he was leaving for a few hours. When he got home, he discovered Jayme was not under the bed and then saw footprints outside. He returned to his house and was met by the police and “stated it was at that point that he knew he was caught.”
He basically assumed “he had gotten away with killing James and Denise and kidnapping Jayme since he hadn’t been caught for the first two weeks.”
He said he had never met Jayme through any social media sites and only learned her name after the abduction and when he got back to his house. He learned the names of the two people he shot and killed after seeing their names on multiple news programs and social media. The defendant stated “he never would have been caught if he would have planned everything perfectly.”
A search warrant was executed, and shotgun shells, boots, a jacket, mask, and license plate were recovered. Again, the above are the allegations in the complaint and have not been proven in a court of law.
The Barron County sheriff has described a violent scene and said there was a shooting in the Closs house, but, for months, he declined to give many more details.
“Our deputies on scene. This is a tough scene. And they’re frustrated,” said Fitzgerald in a news conference the day after Jayme vanished. “…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.
“I haven’t seen anything like this in rural western Wisconsin,” Sheriff Fitzgerald said in an October 16, 2018 news conference. “We just don’t see this thankfully.”
Jeff Closs, Jayme’s uncle, told KARE11 after she was found: “It was just unbelievable because you hear about … you’re not sure if she’s going to be found. And when you actually hear it, it’s just unbelievable. We’re all just so grateful and happy,” he said. “We thought it was going to be a different ending and we’re so happy that you know, hopefully she’s OK, we don’t really know what shape she’s in. Or you know, we don’t really know a lot, all we know is just she’s alive.”
Fitzgerald says there was a “disturbance” inside the house.
The sheriff was very open for days about how little information authorities had. Sheriff Fitzgerald reiterated in a news conference early on in the case 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 were vexed by the case.
4. Patterson Was on His High School’s Quiz Team & Jayme’s Superintendent Praised Her Courage
Jayme Closs is a middle school student in Barron. Diane Tremblay, the superintendent, revealed at the press conference, “There is so much love and hugs in our district today. It’s just insurmountable. We want to thank Jayme for being so courageous and finding the opportunity to come back to us. What an extraordinary young lady.”
As for Jake Patterson, the superintendent of the different school district (Northwood) he once attended labeled him quiet and a good student in an interview with The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and said he was a member of the high school quiz bowl team.
The Associated Press reported that the ownership of the cabin where Jayme was held “passed to a credit union soon after the girl’s abduction.” It had been owned by Patterson’s father but he transferred the nearly $80,000 cabin to Superior Choice Credit eight days after Jayme disappeared.
However, KBJR later reported that the AP was in error – instead, the mortgage on the cabin was actually released because records show “the Superior Credit Union certified the mortgage on the cabin near Gordon and it was fully paid and satisfied by Jake Patterson’s father.”
On the evening of October 15, 2018, the Barron County Sheriff identified the deceased parents as James, 56 and Denise, 46. “They are husband and wife and the mother and father of Jayme, the missing 13 year old,” Sheriff Fitzgerald said in a statement that he posted to Facebook shortly after Jayme vanished.
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. Although a quiet, country town, Barron is located in one of the areas of the state with a severe meth problem. However, authorities have given no indication that might be connected.
The sheriff added on October 15: “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.” On October 16, he said autopsies were still being conducted, so he couldn’t release the cause of death yet. It was later released that the parents were shot to death and were victims of homicide.
A neighbor told WISN-TV that they heard gunshots. Family members had never given up in their quest to find the missing girl, flooding social media with reminders of her.
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…”
According to Sheriff Fitzgerald, Jayme Closs was seen at a family gathering on Sunday, October 15, 2018.
5. Jayme Closs Was Described as a Sweet Girl Who Loved Dance & Elizabeth Smart Has Praised Her Strength
On January 11, 2019, a child/adolescent forensic interviewer with the FBI interviewed Jayme. The interview was audio and video recorded. The criminal complaint alleges that:
Jayme said she was asleep in her bedroom when her dog started barking early in the morning. She got up to investigate why her dog was barking and noticed there was someone driving up their driveway. She went to her parents’ room and woke them up. Jayme stated her parents got up and her father went to the door to see what was going on. She stated there was a man (later identified as Patterson) at the door with a gun, so she and her mother hid in the bathroom with the door closed, according to the complaint. They hid in the bathtub.
She heard a gunshot and knew her father had just been killed. Her mother had her cell phone with her and used the phone to call 911. Jayme said Patterson broke down the bathroom door and told her mother to hang up the phone. Jayme stated Patterson told her mother to put tape over Jayme’s mouth which her mother did and then Patterson shot her mother. She stated both her mother and father were shot, the complaint alleges.
She said Patterson taped her hands and ankles together and dragged her out to his car. The tape was black in color and he taped her hands behind her back. He placed her in the trunk. It was an older red 4-door car. He drove away. She heard the sirens of two squad cars drive by, the complaint alleges.
The complaint continues to allege:
Jayme said she thought she was in the trunk of the car for about two hours before they arrived at the house where Patterson took her to. He later told her it was his house. He took her to a hallway and made her sit down and stay there. He then removed the tape from her mouth, hands and ankles and told her to go into his bedroom and take off all of her clothes, which he put in a bag. He said a comment about not having evidence. He was going to throw her clothes away but she didn’t see what he actually did with them.
She said that sometimes Patterson would have friends and/or relatives over. Patterson made it clear that nobody was to know she was there or bad things would happen to her. He made her hide under his bed in his bedroom. He stacked totes and laundry bins around the bed with weights stacked against them so she could not move them. One time, Patterson told her something bad would happen if she did it again after she moved a tote. He would turn music on in his room so she couldn’t hear what was happening if anyone else was in the house with him, the complaint accuses.
He would also make her stay under the bed when he left the house, sometimes for 12 hours at a time, with no food, water or bathroom breaks, according to the complaint.
One time, he “got mad at her and hit her really hard on her back with what she described as a handle for something used to clean blinds,” says the complaint.
She didn’t remember what she did to make him mad but remembers Patterson telling her that if it happened again the punishment would be worse next time.
On January 10, 2019, he said he was going to be gone for five or six hours and made her go under the bed. This time, Jayme was able to push the bins and weights away and crawl out. She put on a pair of his shoes and walked out of the house.
Jayme Closs decribed herself on Facebook.
“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.
One young woman who knows best what Jayme might be going through is Elizabeth Smart. In her Instagram post on Jayme, she also wrote, “I have no doubt Jayme and her family will forever appreciate the efforts and prayers of the many thousands of people who contributed and kept them in their thoughts and prayers! I hope we may all continue to support and embrace Jayme as she reclaims her life and comes to terms with the reality of her situation. What a brave, strong, and powerful survivor!!!! No matter what may unfold in her story let’s all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED and whatever other details may surface the most important will still remain that she is alive. May god bless you Jayme Closs and may we all continue to search for every missing child. #miracleshappen #novictimblaming #hope #findingnormal #survivor #strong #brave.”
Tremblay said in a previous 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 assignment 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 had indicated early on that it was possible that Jayme was abducted, but he stopped short of saying that for sure. That was before she was found though. At one point shortly after she disappeared, he said authorities don’t know if Jayme is with a stranger, someone she knows or on her own.
“We don’t know how far she (Jayme) could have gone or if someone took her,” said Sheriff Fitzgerald. “We don’t know the answer to that. We just know we have a violent crime scene and a missing 13-year-old girl.”
In a press conference on October 16, 2018, Fitzgerald did not provide many additional details. 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. It basically continued like that until the surprise development that Jayme was found.
“Every second counts in this case,” said the sheriff. Asked if it was possible that Jayme Closs ran away, he said previously, “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’ve searched the area around the residence to make sure she didn’t just go outside and go to the woods,” the sheriff said on October 15. “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.”
Early on, authorities said they did not consider Jayme Closs a suspect. They considered her an endangered, missing girl. The sheriff said of Jayme early on in the case: “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.”
In the end, Jayme brought herself home.