A 21-year-old man has been arrested and held on homicide and kidnapping charges in the disappearance of 13-year-old Jayme Closs, who was found Thursday three months after she went missing and her parents were killed in their house.
Jake Thomas Patterson was arrested without incident shortly after Jayme was found by a woman walking her dog, authorities said Friday. He’s being held on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Patterson “targeted” Jayme and had no known previous contact with her parents, James and Denise Closs, who were shot dead in their rural northwest Wisconsin home in October 2018. He said Patterson did work for less than two days at a Jennie O turkey processing plant three years ago when Jayme's parents also worked there, but it was unknown if they had any interactions.
Few details are known about what happened to Jayme in the 88 days she was missing. A couple who called 911 after Jayme was found told the Star Tribune that the girl looked skinny and dirty.
Authorities said Jayme was able to escape from the house located in a remote area outside Gordon, Wisconsin. The girl was able to find a woman walking her dog, who immediately recognized Jayme. The woman rushed to a nearby house and called 911.
Kristin Kasinskas, the neighbor who called 911, told the Associated Press that Jayme told her that Patterson “killed my parents and took me.”
Fitzgerald said Jayme has been medically cleared and has been reunited with her aunt. He said she was to be reunited with the rest of her family later Friday night.
While authorities provided few details as the investigation continues, Fitzgerald said investigators believe Jayme was Patterson’s target and that he killed her parents during the abduction. He also said Patterson meticulously planned the abduction and shaved his head to not leave behind any DNA evidence.
Authorities have not released details on how Jayme escaped or under what conditions she was kept. Fitzgerald said their primary concern was Jayme's well being.
Fitzgerald said, though, that Patterson was not home at the time Jayme made her escape, and when they found him, he was in his truck searching for her. Fitzgerald said authorities recovered a shotgun in the home where Jayme was kept. He also noted that a shotgun was used to shoot open the Closs family's front door.
"Jayme is the hero in this case," Fitzgerald said Friday at a news conference. "She is the one who helped us break the case."
Authorities are currently serving search warrants in the Gordon area and are looking for additional evidence. While police are not looking for any additional suspects, they are investigating whether anyone aided Patterson, who does not have a criminal record and was not employed, in order to evade detection.
Fitzgerald would not comment on whether Patterson was cooperating or if he had made any statements while in custody.
"Our goal is to seek justice for Jayme," he said.
Patterson is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, when authorities expected to file a formal criminal complaint against him.