Jake Thomas Patterson saw the 13-year-old girl with red hair just once, getting on a school bus that had pulled up in front of a house off Highway 8 outside Barron, Wisconsin, temporarily bringing his own car to a stop. That morning, Patterson, 21, was on his way to his new job at the Saputo Cheese Factory in nearby Almena, but he quit after just two days in favor of a new plan. He didn’t know her name or who else lived at the home, but according to the criminal complaint detailing his confession to police investigators, Patterson knew that Jayme Closs was “the girl he was going to take.”
Patterson has been charged with two counts of first degree intentional homicide for the October 15th, 2018 murder of Closs’s parents, James and Denise, one count of armed burglary, and one count of kidnapping, following his arraignment this afternoon. Nearly three months after Jayme’s disappearance, which left local law enforcement and the FBI scratching their heads, her nightmare came to an end on January 10th, when the teenager escaped from Patterson’s home in Gordon, located 70 miles from Barron, and then helped police identify and capture her kidnapper less than 30 minutes later.
Speaking to the press on Friday, January 11, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald could only confirm that Jayme was safe and Patterson was in police custody, but had little information to share beyond the scant details gleaned from the nearly three month investigation. However, in advance of Patterson’s arraignment this afternoon, Barron County prosecutors released a 12-page criminal complaint containing Jayme’s account of her parents’ murders, her terrifying abduction by a man she had never met, the physical and psychological tactics he employed to hold her captive, and the circumstances in which she was able to escape. Many details are corroborated by Patterson, who allegedly told the arresting officer, “I did it,” and then, in subsequent interviews with police, revealed his methodical efforts to conceal his identity from law enforcement — including shaving his head, wearing gloves and wiping away any trace DNA or fingerprint evidence from the spent shells of the shotgun he used to shoot Jayme’s parents.
“The defendant stated 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 eyewitness behind,” reads the criminal complaint.
The night of the murders, the Closs family was asleep in their beds when they were jolted awake by their barking dog, warning of a car approaching the property. James Closs was shot in the head as he peered outside the home’s front window with a flashlight and shouted at Patterson, who he assumed must be a police officer, to show his badge. Patterson used the shotgun to break open the front door, and then found Jayme and her mother, Denise, cowering in the bathtub after breaking down the bathroom door. According to the complaint, after forcing Denise to help him bind her daughter’s limbs and tape her mouth shut, Patterson shot Jayme’s mother in the head in front of her; he then dragged Jayme outside, stuffed her in the trunk of his car, and took off, estimating to police that he spent less than five minutes inside the Closs home.
While the criminal complaint is full of chilling new details that shed some light on how Patterson managed to dupe law enforcement, plenty of questions linger, particularly in regards to motive. Both Patterson and Jayme told police that he trapped her under his bed whenever he had guests or errands to run, blocking her from crawling out with weighted bags and heavy objects, threatening to hurt her if she tried. Otherwise, the criminal complaint contains very little information about what occurred inside the home during Jayme’s three months in captivity, including any specific allegations that might shed light on Patterson’s motive for kidnapping a barely teenage girl. While Patterson’s alleged confession makes clear that Jayme was his target, no rape or sexual assault-related charges have been filed.
Patterson did not attend his arraignment, but appeared in court and watched the brief proceedings via video from the Barron County Jail, where he is being held on $5 million bail.
“Mr. Patterson’s feelings are consistent with what you would believe of someone involved with these allegations, he’s in a single cell in a Barron Co. Jail and his feelings are appropriate for those times and circumstances,” said attorney Charles Glynn after meeting with his client on Sunday.
Jayme Closs has since been reunited with her extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as her beloved dog.
“It was great to know she was next to me all night,” aunt Jennifer Smith posted on Facebook over the weekend. “What a great feeling [it is] to have her home.”