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Jayme Closs Case: Jake Patterson Carefully Planned Abduction and Parents’ Murders

The Daily Beast logo The Daily Beast 14/01/2019 By kate.briquelet@thedailybeast.com (Kate Briquelet)
a man posing for the camera: Police Handout / Reuters © Provided by The Daily Beast Police Handout / Reuters

Warning: graphic content

The Wisconsin man who allegedly confessed to kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and murdering her parents didn’t even know their names.

Jake Patterson, 21, told police that he hatched a plan to abduct Jayme after seeing her get on a school bus, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday. He allegedly claimed he’d never had any contact with Jayme before on social media or elsewhere.

The alleged killer faces two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, one count of kidnapping and one count of armed burglary. He was scheduled to appear in Barron County court via video conferencing on Monday afternoon.

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Prosecutors say Patterson claimed he first saw Jayme as he drove to work at the Saputo Cheese Factory—a job he held for only two days before he quit. On one of those mornings, however, he was stopped behind a school bus on U.S. Highway 8, where Jayme lived with her parents and her dog.

Patterson “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,” the complaint states.

He allegedly told cops that when he saw Jayme, “he knew that was the girl he was going to take.” On his second and last day at the factory, Patterson headed to a Walmart in Rice Lake to purchase a black mask for his abduction plot.

This Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 photo shows Jayme Closs, right, with her aunt, Jennifer Smith in Barron, Wis. Jake Thomas Patterson, a 21-year-old man killed a Wisconsin couple in a baffling scheme to kidnap Jayme Closs, their teenage daughter, then held the girl captive for three months before she narrowly managed to escape and reach safety as he drove around looking for her, authorities said. (Jennifer Smith via AP) © The Associated Press This Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 photo shows Jayme Closs, right, with her aunt, Jennifer Smith in Barron, Wis. Jake Thomas Patterson, a 21-year-old man killed a Wisconsin couple in a baffling scheme to kidnap Jayme Closs, their teenage daughter, then held the girl captive for three months before she narrowly managed to escape and reach safety as he drove around looking for her, authorities said. (Jennifer Smith via AP) The details in the complaint shed more light on how Patterson—described by friends as a socially awkward, unemployed loner—snatched a teenage girl.

Jayme Closs was reported missing on Oct. 15, after a 911 call from her mother’s cellphone led police to a gruesome scene at their Barron home. When deputies arrived around 1 a.m., they found the bodies of James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46. Both of them were shot in the head.

Jayme, the couple's only child, was gone without a trace.

The case puzzled the close-knit community in northern Wisconsin and law enforcement, which struggled to determine a motive and unearth clues to Jayme’s whereabouts.

In November, Sheriff Fitzgerald told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he believed the slayings and abduction were “targeted” and that the public was safe. But he couldn’t answer whether there was one suspect or two, or why someone would harm the Closs family.

Now Jayme’s family, and the public, have an answer.

Last week, Jayme escaped from Patterson’s secluded cabin in Gordon, Wisconsin—about 70 miles north of her home—and flagged down a woman walking her dog. That woman, Jeanne Nutter, happened to be a retired social worker who recognized Jayme from missing persons fliers and quickly sprung into action. “The girl just came out of the woods,” Nutter’s husband, Forrest, told The Daily Beast.

The sign outside Barron, Wis., City Hall, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, welcomes Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old northwestern Wisconsin girl who went missing in October after her parents were killed. Closs was found alive in the rural town of Gordon, Wis., about about 60 miles north of her home in Barron, authorities said Thursday, Jan. 10. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP) © The Associated Press The sign outside Barron, Wis., City Hall, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, welcomes Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old northwestern Wisconsin girl who went missing in October after her parents were killed. Closs was found alive in the rural town of Gordon, Wis., about about 60 miles north of her home in Barron, authorities said Thursday, Jan. 10. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP) According to the criminal complaint, when she darted out of Patterson’s lair, Jayme was wearing a pair of “dirty, worn New Balance athletic shoes” for men, and had “the left shoe on her right foot and the right shoe on her left foot.”

“I’m Jayme Closs,” Jayme told Nutter. “I don’t know where I am.”

Nutter told cops that she went on a 40-minute walk around 3:30 p.m. As she returned to her home, she saw Jayme in the road, yelling for help.

“He killed my parents,” Jayme said. “Please help—I want to go home.”

They fled to a neighbor’s house because Nutter was worried her residence was too close to Patterson’s, the complaint states.

Jayme told the FBI that she was asleep in her room when Patterson appeared at her front door, court papers state. She woke to her dog barking and noticed a car in her driveway, so she went to her parent’s room and roused them.

James Closs then headed to the front door, where Patterson was waiting with a gun, while Jayme and Denise hid in a bathroom.

The middle-schooler told cops she “heard a gunshot and knew her father had just been killed,” the complaint states. Just as Denise was dialing 911, Patterson broke down the door and ordered her to hang up the phone.

a man and a woman standing in front of a building: Jayme Closs , who went missing in October, has been found alive (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP) © Jerry Holt Jayme Closs , who went missing in October, has been found alive (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP) He then handed Denise duct-tape and ordered her to cover Jayme’s mouth, before shooting Denise in the head, Jayme told police.

Jayme said this was the first time she’d ever seen Patterson, who was dressed all in black and wore a face mask, hat and gloves, the complaint states.

Patterson bound Jayme’s wrists and ankles with tape and dragged her to the trunk of his vehicle, which was an older red Ford Taurus.

Jayme could hear squad car sirens pass her while Patterson drove off. She told police she thought she was in the trunk for two hours before Patterson parked outside his Gordon cabin and brought her inside.

Once in the building, Patterson removed the tape from her mouth, hands and ankles, then ordered her to remove her clothes and put them in a bag. “[Jayme] stated Patterson made a comment about not having evidence,” the complaint alleges.

Jayme told authorities that Patterson would sometimes have friends or relatives over, but that he “made it clear that nobody was to know she was there or bad things would happen to her,” the criminal complaint alleges.

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2018, file photo, a Barron County, Wis., sheriff's vehicle is parked outside the home where James Closs and Denise Closs were found fatally shot on Oct. 15. The Barron County Sheriff's Department said on its Facebook page that the missing teenager Jayme Closs has been found alive Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, and that a suspect was taken into custody. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2018, file photo, a Barron County, Wis., sheriff's vehicle is parked outside the home where James Closs and Denise Closs were found fatally shot on Oct. 15. The Barron County Sheriff's Department said on its Facebook page that the missing teenager Jayme Closs has been found alive Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, and that a suspect was taken into custody. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen, File) Patterson allegedly forced Jayme to hide under his twin bed in his room and turned on music so she couldn’t hear what was happening in the rest of the house. And he allegedly stacked plastic bins around the bed, which contained barbells, so he could detect if she tried to move.

The alleged killer made Jayme hide under the bed when he left the house, sometimes for up to 12 hours with no food, water or bathroom breaks, prosecutors say.

Jayme said that on one occasion, Patterson got mad and hit her “really hard” on her back with a “handle for something used to clean blinds,” but that she didn’t know why. If Jayme offended him again, he said, “the punishment would be worse next time.”

On Jan. 10, Patterson told Jayme he was going to be gone for five or six hours. After he left the house, Jayme pushed the weighted bins out of her way and crawled out from under the bed. Then she put on Patterson’s shoes and walked out.

Soon after Nutter dialed police, deputies pulled over Patterson’s vehicle, which had a broken taillight and was registered to his sister.

At the time of his arrest, Patterson was driving on Eau Claire Acres Circle, where he lived, and looking for his young captive.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald speaks during a news conference, Friday, Jan. 11, 2018, in Barron, Wis., regarding the arrest of Jake Thomas Patterson, who allegedly kidnapped Jayme Closs, Closs, a 13-year-old northwestern Wisconsin girl who went missing in October after her parents were killed, was found alive in the rural town of Gordon, Wis., about about 60 miles north of her home in Barron. Investigators believe Patterson, who was taken into custody shortly after Closs was found, killed her parents because he wanted to abduct her. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP) © The Associated Press Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald speaks during a news conference, Friday, Jan. 11, 2018, in Barron, Wis., regarding the arrest of Jake Thomas Patterson, who allegedly kidnapped Jayme Closs, Closs, a 13-year-old northwestern Wisconsin girl who went missing in October after her parents were killed, was found alive in the rural town of Gordon, Wis., about about 60 miles north of her home in Barron. Investigators believe Patterson, who was taken into custody shortly after Closs was found, killed her parents because he wanted to abduct her. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP) Deputies approached the car and ordered Patterson to raise his hands in the air. As he stepped out of the vehicle, Patterson allegedly announced that he knew why cops were there and declared, “I did it,” the complaint states.  

For his part, Patterson allegedly told detectives that he drove to the Closs residence twice with the intention of kidnapping Jayme prior to the Oct. 15 abduction. One night, “there were all kinds of cars in the driveway and it scared him off.” On another occasion, he backed off after he saw lights on and people walking around the house.

“The defendant stated he put quite a bit of thought into the details of how he was going to abduct [Jayme],” the complaint says.

Patterson said that during one of his trips to the Closs home, he drove a few miles down the road and stole license plates off a stranger’s vehicle, “because he did not want to get stopped or spotted with his own license plates.”

As part of his plan, Patterson also rigged his car so that the vehicle wouldn’t illuminate when he entered or exited and engineered the trunk so “no one could pull the trunk release once inside,” the complaint states.

Patterson allegedly told police he grabbed his father’s 12-gauge Mossberg pump shotgun before leaving his house. He chose this weapon, he said, because his research led him to believe it would be difficult to trace.

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2018, file photo, volunteers cross a creek and barbed wire near Barron, Wis., on their way to a ground search for 13-year-old Jayme Closs who was discovered missing Oct. 15 after her parents were found fatally shot at their home. The Barron County Sheriff's Department said on its Facebook page that that the teenager Closs has been located Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, and that a suspect was taken into custody. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2018, file photo, volunteers cross a creek and barbed wire near Barron, Wis., on their way to a ground search for 13-year-old Jayme Closs who was discovered missing Oct. 15 after her parents were found fatally shot at their home. The Barron County Sheriff's Department said on its Facebook page that that the teenager Closs has been located Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, and that a suspect was taken into custody. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen, File) Patterson allegedly told cops that he wiped down the shotgun and the shotgun shells while wearing gloves so there would be no fingerprints or DNA on them. He also shaved his face and head and showered before leaving his house, to avoid leaving DNA or hair at the scene.

When he arrived at the Closs residence, Patterson saw James at the front door. He shot him in the head through a window in the door, then entered the house, which was dark.

Patterson told cops he scanned the rooms in the house before coming upon a closed bathroom door. Patterson kicked and shouldered the door, which was locked and barricaded, about 10 to 15 times before it burst open.

According to the complaint, Patterson entered the bathroom and saw the shower curtain was closed, so he ripped it off and threw it on the floor. He found Denise with her arms wrapped around Jayme as they sat in the bathtub. While Jayme stood next to him in the bathroom, Patterson shot Denise in the head.

After Patterson loaded Jayme in the trunk, he got in his car, removed his mask and drove off. The alleged killer was only 20 seconds from the house when he yielded to three passing squad cars with emergency lights, he said.

Patterson told cops “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,” the complaint says.

Asked what he would have done if officers pulled him over, Patterson allegedly indicated he would have fired at police.

© AP For the first two weeks after Jayme’s abduction, Patterson kept the loaded shotgun outside his room in case authorities came looking for them. He later emptied the shotgun and placed it in a junked car in his yard.

On the day Jayme escaped, Patterson told her he was leaving for a few hours. He then headed to Haugen. When he got home, he saw Jayme was gone and noticed her footprints in the snow outside.

He got into his car and drove around looking for her. Police were waiting for him when he returned to his house a few minutes later.

“The defendant stated 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,” the complaint states.

Patterson said he never met Jayme through social media and only learned her name after the abduction. He learned her parents’ names after their murders on the news and social media.

The complaint states that Patterson said “he never would have been caught if he would have planned everything perfectly.”

Photos are surfacing of Patterson’s house of horror, revealing a remote, snow-covered property strewn with rusty bikes, firewood and garbage. A sign above the door greets visitors with the words, “Patterson's Retreat.” The New York Post published images of the two-story home and its decrepit interiors, along with an empty box of women’s diapers tossed outside.

Jayme reunited with her family on Friday afternoon, after spending Thursday night in a Duluth area hospital for observation.

They never gave up hope that she’d be found. “It’s such an overwhelming, amazing happy ending to such a horrible beginning,” Jayme’s aunt, Lynn Closs, told CBS.

Relatives say they haven’t asked Jayme what happened.

"You just want to know, but no, they’re saying just let it come out. If she wants to be happy, let her be happy. If she wants to be sad, let her be sad. She wants to be silly, let her be silly,” Lynn Closs said. “We gotta let her call the shots right now.”

A thank you sign is displayed after Jayme Closs, a missing Wisconsin teenager was found alive more than three months after she disappeared, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 in Barron, Wis. Closs disappeared in October after her parents were killed inside their home . She was found Thursday in a town about an hour's drive away after approaching a woman walking her dog, saying she'd been held against her will. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen) © The Associated Press A thank you sign is displayed after Jayme Closs, a missing Wisconsin teenager was found alive more than three months after she disappeared, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 in Barron, Wis. Closs disappeared in October after her parents were killed inside their home . She was found Thursday in a town about an hour's drive away after approaching a woman walking her dog, saying she'd been held against her will. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen) Last week, Patterson’s friends told The Daily Beast they were appalled by the accusations against him. “Never in a million years would I ever think Jake would do anything like that,” said Elissa Lisenby, one of Patterson’s high school classmates.

Another pal, Clinton Rolnik, described Patterson as someone who was “awkward,” “really shy” and who shunned social media. “He almost never left the house unless he was coming to school,” Rolnik said.

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