Jake Patterson, the man accused of abducting 13-year-old Jayme Closs and murdering her parents, pleaded guilty during a court appearance on Wednesday. Patterson, 21, pled guilty to two counts of homicide and one count of abducting a minor.
According to investigators, Patterson developed an obsession with Closs after he spotted her boarding a school bus outside her home in Barron, Wisconsin, which led to him plotting to abduct her from her home. Her kidnapping and subsequent rescue were the subject of intense media coverage, with newspapers and TV networks following the story for months.
Prosecutors allege that on October 15th, 2018, Patterson arrived at Closs’s home and fatally shot her father, James, while Jayme and her mother Denise hid in the bathtub. He then fatally shot Denise and abducted Jayme in the trunk of his car, driving her to his cabin about an hour away.
Patterson reportedly kept Jayme at his home for 88 days, leaving her under the bed for hours without food or water so she could avoid detection. He weighed down the bedposts to prevent her from escaping.
On Jan. 10, Patterson left the house for a few hours, giving Jayme the opportunity to push the weights away from the bed and escape. A social worker recognized her from the media coverage of her disappearance and took her to the police station. Shortly thereafter, Patterson was arrested and confessed to abducting Jayme and murdering her parents, telling authorities, “I did it.”
In a letter sent to a local news reporter earlier this month, Patterson expressed contrition for his actions and said he would plead guilty to the charges, so Jayme would be spared the trauma of going through a trial. “No one will believe or can even imagine how sorry I am for hurting Jayme this much. Can’t express it,” he wrote. (Jayme is currently living with her aunt and guardian, Jennifer Smyth.)
As Wisconsin does not have the death penalty, Patterson faces life in prison. He is due to appear in court for sentencing in May.