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Jayme Closs kidnapping suspect charged with murdering her parents

NBC News logo NBC News 1/11/2019 Minyvonne Burke and Corky Siemaszko

Why was Jayme Closs targeted?

That was the still unanswered question Friday as a relieved Wisconsin town and law enforcement celebrated the escape of the 13-year-old girl after nearly three months in captivity — and the arrest of the man now charged with kidnapping the girl and murdering her parents, 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson.

"For 88 days I have stood before you and said we would work tirelessly to bring Jayme Closs home," a clearly delighted Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said at a news conference to announce Patterson's arrest. "Today I can report we have done just that. At this moment, Jayme is being in the comforting embrace of law enforcement as the investigation into her three month ordeal ensues."

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Asked whether Jayme and Patterson had any prior contact before Oct. 15, when the suspect allegedly killed the teen's parents and abducted her, Fitzgerald answered, "We believe there was none."

Jayme and Patterson "don't appear to have any contact on social media," the sheriff added.

Patterson, who is charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of James Closs, 56, and his wife Denise, 46, as well as kidnapping, lives in tiny Gordon, Wisconsin — some 70 miles from Jayme's hometown of Barron.

a person with collar shirt: Jake Thomas Patterson

Jake Thomas Patterson
© Barron County Sheriff's Dept.

Fitzgerald said detectives have only started to question the girl about her ordeal and when asked if Patterson had a police record, he said the suspect has "zero criminal history." But they believe the suspect intended to abduct Closs.

Patterson was arrested near his home in Douglas County, Wisconsin and was being held in the Barron County Jail.

The desperate search for Jayme ended Thursday when the missing girl suddenly emerged from the woods in near Gordon and asked a woman walking her dog for help, Fitzgerald said.

"In cases like this, we often need a big break and it was Jayme herself who gave us that break," FBI Special Agent in Charge R. Justin Tolomeo said.

Patterson was arrested after Jayme gave authorities a description of his vehicle, investigators said. He was pulled over and taken into custody shortly after she was found.

"It's amazing, the will of that girl to survive and escape," Fitzgerald said, adding that they are not looking for additional suspects.

The hunt for Jayme and her alleged abductor — an intense search that also included the FBI — began after the Barron County Sheriff's Department received a mysterious 911 call.

Four minutes later, the authorities arrived at the Closs home and found the parents slain — and no sign of the girl.

Almost immediately after Jayme disappeared, thousands of tips came flooding in, some from as far away as Miami. None proved credible at the time.

"I'm shocked," Kelly Engelhardt, Jayme's aunt, told NBC affiliate KARE on Thursday after her niece was found. "It's what we've prayed for every single day."

Jayme was taken to a hospital Thursday night and held overnight for observation.

Fitzgerald said a “reunification process” is in place to reunite Jayme with her family. He said they hope to bring her home to Barron County sometime Friday.

The Gordon residents who encountered Jayme and called 911 described the teen as “unkempt” and said she allegedly spoke of being “locked up or hidden.”

"She didn't express any fear," Kristin Kasinskas told KARE on Thursday. Kristin and her husband, Peter Kasinskas, were home when they said a neighbor, Jeanne Nutter, pounded on their door shouting, “This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!”


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