12 Jan 2019

Man charged for kidnapping teenager and killing parents

3:14 pm on 12 January 2019

Wisconsin police have charged a 21-year-old man with murdering a 13-year-old girl's parents last October so he could abduct her.

This police booking photo released on January 11, 2019, by the Barron County Sheriff's Department in Wisconsin, shows Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, suspected of kidnapping Jayme Closs,13.

Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, who allegedly killed two people and held their daughter captive for three months. Photo: AFP

Jake Thomas Patterson was arrested on two counts of first-degree homicide and one count of kidnapping, police said on Friday.

Jayme Closs was found alive by the suspect's neighbours on Thursday.

She had escaped on foot from a remote cabin where she had been held against her will after her parent's murder.

Jayme will soon be reunited with her family, officials said during a news conference on Friday.

They described the 13-year-old as the suspect's "only target" and said Jayme was "taken against her will".

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Mr Patterson had no criminal history in the state of Wisconsin.

Investigators said he took "many proactive steps" to hide his identity from law enforcement and the public.

Officials did not expand on why Jayme was targeted.

(FILES) This file photo of an undated image released by the Barron County Sheriff's Department in Wisconsin on October 15, 2018 shows missing 13-year-old Jayme Closs.

Jayme Closs, 13, managed to escape a remote cabin where she had been held against her will after her parents were killed. Photo: AFP

Mr Fitzgerald said Jayme had not connected with Mr Patterson on social media, and the suspect had had no contact with anyone else in the family.

He said the unemployed suspect had ties to the Barron area, but did not elaborate.

Mr Fitzgerald noted police information was "limited" and Jayme was still being interviewed, but she had been medically cleared and released from hospital.

"There is a reunification process in place going on right now that includes medical mental evaluation, questioning by detectives and FBI agents, and then reunification with family.

"It's amazing - the will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape."

Jayme was found on Thursday in the small town of Gordon, some 70 miles (112km) from her home in Barron.

According to Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec, Gordon police pinpointed and arrested Mr Patterson 11 minutes later thanks to a description of his vehicle that Jayme provided.

Mr Patterson was interviewed by Douglas County officials and then transported to the Barron County jail.

FBI special agent Justin Tolomeo told reporters: "In cases like this we often need a big break - it was Jayme herself who gave us that break."

Barron County district attorney Brian Right said he planned to file a criminal complaint against Mr Patterson next week.

'Like a ghost'

Local teacher Jeanne Nutter was walking her dog when she found Jayme on Thursday.

She told the Associated Press that the 13-year-old had shouted "please help me, I don't know where I am, I'm lost".

Ms Nutter said Jayme was skinny, dirty and wearing shoes too large for her feet.

She brought Jayme to the home of neighbours Kristin and Peter Kasinskas, as it was farther away from where she found the teenager.

Jeanne Nutter speaks to the press on January 11, 2019 in Gordon, Wisconsin. Nutter, walking her dog near the cabin she owns with her husband Forrest on January 10, encountered Jayme Closs coming out of nearby woods.

Jeanne Nutter was walking her dog near the cabin she owns with her husband on 10 January when she encountered Jayme Closs coming out of nearby woods. Photo: AFP

"It was like I was seeing a ghost," Mr Kasinskas told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "My jaw just went to the floor."

Mr Patterson lived just a few houses away from the Kasinskas family, and Mrs Kasinskas had been one of his school teachers, the Associated Press reported.

Mrs Kasinskas told the Press she had not seen him on their street or in town since high school, describing him as "a quiet kid".

"I don't recall anything that would have explained this, by any means."

Jayme reportedly stayed at the home for about 20 minutes, declining food and water.

Jayme's aunt, Sue Allard, told the Star Tribune: "It's the news we've been waiting on for three months.

"I can't wait to get my arms around her. I just can't wait."

Her uncle, Jeff Closs, told KARE News the family had "thought it was going to be a different ending".

"We don't really know what shape she's in," he added. "We don't really know a lot, all we know is just she's alive."

The area where Jayme was eventually found is a remote community with around 30 homes near the Eau Claire River, the Star Tribune reported.

The town of Gordon itself has under 750 residents.

During the intense, nationwide investigation for Jayme, officials from the FBI, state patrol and local law enforcement received thousands of tips.

Jayme went missing on Monday 15 October 2018, after emergency services received a mobile phone call from her family address in Barron.

Emergency dispatchers heard a disturbance in the background, but no-one spoke to them directly.

When police arrived at the home four minutes later, they found the parents, James and Denise Closs, shot dead.

There was no sign of Jayme, nor of a suspect or murder weapon.

The Closses' deaths were ruled as homicide by a medical examiner.

A survivor of one of America's most infamous kidnaps has welcomed the news of Jayme's escape.

Elizabeth Smart - who was abducted aged 14 in 2002 in Utah and held captive for nine months - said in an Instagram post: "No matter what may unfold in her story let's all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED."

View this post on Instagram

What a miracle!!! Jayme Closs has been found!!!! I’m so thrilled to hear the news. What has been such a heart wrenching tragedy finally has some happiness in the story. I’m praying for Jayme and all her family that they can have a joyous reunion and as the rest of the country celebrates alongside this happy occasion we all are mindful to give the family their space and privacy on their road to finding a new sense of normal and moving forward. I have no doubt Jayme and her family will forever appreciate the efforts and prayers of the many thousands of people who contributed and kept them in their thoughts and prayers! I hope we may all continue to support and embrace Jayme as she reclaims her life and comes to terms with the reality of her situation. What a brave, strong, and powerful survivor!!!! No matter what may unfold in her story let’s all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED and whatever other details may surface the most important will still remain that she is alive. May god bless you Jayme Closs and may we all continue to search for every missing child. #miracleshappen #novictimblaming #hope #findingnormal #survivor #strong #brave

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