Authorities on Friday identified the suspect in the kidnapping of 13-year-old Jayme Closs as Jake Thomas Patterson. Patterson is also suspected of killing Jayme’s parents in their Wisconsin home in October.
Here’s what we know about him:
• Patterson is a 21-year-old from Gordon, Wisconsin, about 70 miles north of Barron, not far from where Jayme lived with her parents.
• Patterson was taken into custody Thursday after the girl gave investigators a description of his vehicle, according to Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec. A short time later, a patrol officer found a vehicle that matched the description and pulled it over. Patterson was arrested down the road from his home outside Gordon. He did not appear to be looking for Jayme, Dalbec said.
• He’s being held in the Barron County Jail. He faces two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the killings of Jayme’s parents, James and Denise Closs, and one count of kidnapping, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told reporters.
• Patterson “planned his actions and took many proactive steps to hide his identity from law enforcement and the general public,” Fitzgerald said.
• Fitzgerald said investigators believe Jayme was Patterson’s target and that the suspect had no earlier contact with her family.
• Patterson had “zero” criminal history locally or in Wisconsin, Fitzgerald said. Authorities are not looking for any additional suspects.
• He’s unemployed, Fitzgerald said, and lives in a remote area outside Gordon.
Jayme Closs helped lead authorities to the man accused of kidnapping her and killing her parents
Jayme Closs escaped from the remote Wisconsin residence of her captor — a man now arrested on suspicion of killing the teen’s parents and abducting her three months ago — and then flagged down a woman who was walking her dog, authorities say.
In a case that prompted numerous searches and thousands of public tips, it was 13-year-old Jayme who helped herself to freedom Thursday afternoon.
“In cases like this we often need a big break, and it was Jayme herself who gave us that break,” FBI Special Agent Justin Tolomeo told reporters Friday during a news conference in Jayme’s Wisconsin hometown of Barron.
Jayme, who was reported missing October 15 after her parents were found shot dead in their home near Barron, was discovered walking alone Thursday afternoon two counties to the north, outside the rural community of Gordon, authorities said.
Her accused abductor — Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, of Gordon — was arrested shortly afterward, when a law enforcement officer pulled him over in a vehicle after neighbors called 911 to report Jayme’s emergence, authorities said.
Investigators now believe Patterson shot Jayme’s parents — James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46 — dead at their home in October and abducted Jayme, and that it appears he went there with the precise intention of taking the girl, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said.
A motive — and whether Patterson and the Closs family knew each other — remains under investigation, authorities said.
Patterson was being held Friday in Barron County on preliminary charges of first-degree intentional homicide and kidnapping, Fitzgerald said.
“I have stood before you and (promised) we’d work tirelessly to bring (Jayme) home,” Fitzgerald said. “Last night our collective promise was fulfilled.”
‘It appears he concealed her from … his friends’
The sheriff said Patterson had been keeping Jayme against her will at his home outside Gordon, in Wisconsin’s sparsely populated Douglas County, which abuts Minnesota.
Fitzgerald said it’s not clear whether Patterson, who is unemployed, owns the home, or how he kept Jayme there.
“It appears he concealed her from other people … his friends,” Fitzgerald said.
Also unclear is why he allegedly targeted her in the first place. The sheriff said it appeared Patterson had no previous contact with Jayme’s family, including any social media contact with the teen, Fitzgerald said.
Patterson does have “a tie” to Barron County, where Jayme’s family lived, the sheriff said without elaborating.
He also took “many proactive steps to hide his identity from law enforcement and the general public,” Fitzgerald said, again without elaboration.
Jayme says abductor killed her parents, woman who helped her says
Investigators are trying to determine how Jayme escaped from Patterson’s home, Fitzgerald said.
Kristin Kasinskas, a woman who helped report Jayme’s emergence to police Thursday, spoke to CNN on Friday about what happened.
Jayme had approached Kasinskas’ neighbor — the woman police say was walking her dog in the remote community outside Gordon — around 4 p.m. Thursday and asked for help.
The woman knew of Closs’ story. Her disappearance had been reported nationally, and intensely so in the state. Those two then rushed to Kasinskas’ home, which was nearby.
“(The neighbor) said, ‘This is Jayme Closs! Call 911 right now!'” Kasinskas said.
Police were called — but before they arrived, Jayme told them that she’d been held in the Gordon area, near Kasinskas’ home, by someone who killed her parents on the night she disappeared.
“She said to us that, ‘This person killed my parents and took me,'” Kasinskas told CNN’s Poppy Harlow.
“She said that this person usually hides her or hides her when others are near, or when he has to leave the household. She did not go into detail about how she got out of the house or anything like that.”
The girl appeared unkempt and thinner than she appeared in photographs that’d been publicly released, Kasinskas said.
“She looked … kind of in rough shape. … I think she was doing OK, despite the circumstances,” she said.
Jayme provided a description of Patterson’s vehicle. Shortly after the 911 call, a sheriff’s patrol sergeant found the vehicle, pulled it over and took Patterson into custody, Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec said.
Kasinskas said she knew of Patterson, but didn’t know him well.
Jayme expected to be released from hospital Friday, godmother says
Jennifer Smith, Jayme’s godmother, told CNN affiliate WCCO that Jayme was recovering in a hospital near Duluth, Minnesota, and is expected to be released Friday.
Jayme’s aunt, Sue Allard, told WCCO of a rollercoaster day Thursday — the family earlier in the day had heard rumors, which authorities knocked down, that the teen might have been found in a different part of the state.
“And I just shut myself totally down. I thought today was going to be the day, and then I find out two hours later that she’s found and I just cannot believe this,” Allard told WCCO reporter Mary McGuire.
Jayme’s relatives are breathing sighs of relief.
“I can’t thank everybody enough for not giving up on Jayme,” Smith, the godmother, told WCCO.
“Jayme: Aunt Jen can’t wait to give you that big hug and hold you tight,” Smith said, “because we’re not going to let you go.”
Jayme declared missing after parents found dead
Jayme was missing when police discovered her parents dead in their home near Barron on October 15.
The investigation began when someone called 911 early that morning. No one on the line talked to the dispatcher, but the dispatcher could hear yelling in the background, a log of the call shows.
Authorities traced the call to the Closs home. Sheriff’s deputies arrived to find the door kicked in, and eventually they found Jayme’s parents shot dead in the home.
No one else was there.
Investigators believe Jayme was at the home when her parents were killed, and that Patterson abducted her from there, Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said he isn’t sure whether Patterson and the girl went anywhere else other than his home outside Gordon.
Thousands of people joined search parties for months as investigators received thousands of tips. The FBI offered a cash reward for information on Jayme’s whereabouts, and hunters in the area were urged to be on the lookout for clues.
In December, the Barron County Clerk of Courts Office dedicated its Christmas tree to Jayme. The decorations spelled out her name in big, glittery letters, and they included green bulbs and ribbons. The color green is often used to raise awareness of missing children.
In the days after Jayme’s disappearance, law enforcement officials assured the public they believed she was alive and in danger.
Barron, a town of less than 3 square miles, has a population of about 3,300, according to US Census figures. It is about a one-hour, 50-minute drive from Minneapolis, and is about 50 minutes from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.