Sheriff says "Jayme is the hero in this case," updates investigation

Jake Thomas Patterson (Photo: Barron County Sheriff's Office)
Jake Thomas Patterson (Photo: Barron County Sheriff's Office)(WBAY)
Published: Jan. 10, 2019 at 8:03 PM CST
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On Saturday morning Jayme Closs' aunt who the teenager is staying with posted an update on Facebook:

"Jayme had a pretty good night sleep it was great to know she was next to me all night what a great feeling to have her home. As a family we will get through all of the healing process Jayme has. It will be a long road but we are family strong and we love this little girl so much!! We will do anything and everything!! My beloved sister Denise pooh and brother in law Jim can rest at peace and I keep assuring them Jayme is safe and we will make sure forever. We all miss them both dearly now they know there Jayme which was there whole world is home with family!! God is Good !! Bless you all!!"

The Barron County sheriff says Jake Thomas Patterson made extensive preparations to kidnap Jayme Closs.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald says 13-year-old Jayme was released from the hospital where she was kept overnight for observation and was reunited with her relatives Friday afternoon.

The 21-year-old Wisconsin man is facing kidnapping and homicide charges in the Jayme Closs case.

Patterson, of Gordon, Wis., was arrested after Jayme escaped her captor Thursday afternoon, found a woman walking a dog and asked for help. The woman took Jayme to a nearby house where neighbors called 911.

"She was skinnier than in her photograph but I think healthy overall, and she was able to have a conversation with us. I think she was doing okay and-- despite the circumstances," the neighbor, Kristin Kasinskas, said. "She said that this person usually hides her or or hides her when others are near or when he has to leave the household."

Patterson is facing two homicide charges for the Oct. 15 murders of Jayme Closs's parents, James and Denise Closs. He's facing the kidnapping charge for the girl's abduction.

Investigators are not looking for additional suspects.

He's expected to make his initial appearance in Barron County court on Monday afternoon, along with the filing of a criminal complaint which may contain additional details from investigators.

Patterson has no adult criminal history in Wisconsin, according to online court records.

Sheriff Fitzgerald says investigators do not believe Jayme's parents knew Jake Patterson. Rather, it appears he went to the home with the intention of abducting Jayme and prepared extensively. Patterson changed his appearance, including shaving his head.

"Jayme was taken against her will and escaped from a residence at which she was being held and found help." Fitzgerald says. "I can tell you that the subject planned his actions and took many proactive steps to hide his identity from law enforcement and the general public."

Investigators don't know yet how or why Patterson honed in on Jayme. They don't believe there was a social media connection, the sheriff said, addressing speculation.

At a news conference Friday afternoon, Sheriff Fitzgerald said investigators recovered several guns, including a shotgun that's consistent with the weapon used at the Closs home on October 15; it will have further forensic testing.

Fitzgerald says Patterson wasn't home when Jayme escaped Thursday, but it appears he was driving around looking for her when deputies spotted his vehicle. It fit a description Jayme gave deputies, and Patterson was in custody just 11 minutes after deputies first spoke with Jayme.

"Jayme is the hero in this case," the sheriff said.

Barron schools Superintendent Diane Tremblay said, "We want to thank Jayme for being so courageous and for achieving an opportunity to find her way back to us. What an extraordinary young lady."

The FBI and Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation were continuing to search the Gordon home for additional clues.

In response to reports the home title was turned over to a credit union shortly after Jayme's abduction, Fitzgerald acknowledged he's not certain who owns the home.

Fitzgerald also said Patterson has several vehicles and investigators are evaluating them.

The sheriff confirmed an Associated Press report that Patterson worked at the same Jennie-O Turkey facility where James and Denise Closs worked, but he said that was three years ago and Patterson worked there for less than two days. He said there's no evidence they had any contact.

Sheriff Fitzgerald said the town of Gordon, more than 60 miles north of Barron and closer to Wisconsin's northwestern tip, was never on investigators' radar.


Jayme Closs was found alive nearly three months to the day she was abducted from her western Wisconsin home where her parents were found shot and killed. A 911 call was placed from Denise Closs's cell phone. Jayme was inside the home when her parents were killed. She was gone by the time police arrived on scene.

Sheriff Fitzgerald says Jayme was being held against her will in a home in the Douglas County community of Gordon, about an hour north of Barron. At some point on Thursday, she escaped the home on foot and found her way to safety.

Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec says his office received a 911 call at about 4:30 p.m. saying Jayme Closs had been located. Jayme had approached a woman who was out walking her dog. That woman brought Jayme to the home of neighbors Peter and Kristin Kasinskas. They called for help.

Patterson was quickly identified as a suspect and taken into custody. It took about 11 minutes to find him.

"A short time later one of my patrol sergeants happened to find a vehicle that matched the description that Jayme gave my deputies of the suspect and pulled the vehicle over and took the suspect into custody at that time," Talbec said.

The Kasinskas said they heard a frantic knock on the door of their home near Gordon. The couple told

that a neighbor was standing there with a "skinny, dirty girl with matted hair, wearing shoes too big for her feet."

"I think [Jayme] looks thinner than what her pictures showed," Kristin Kasinskas told ABC News. "She definitely looked unkempt, kind of -- she didn't have shoes that were hers. She was wearing really big shoes that she obviously took from wherever she came from. She looked, overall, in good condition, just a little unclean, like she'd been held captive."

Jayme was taken to a hospital in Superior where she was evaluated and medically cleared.

"I hear she's doing great and getting rest right now," aunt Jen Smith

"All I know is that she escaped from where she was being held, saw a lady walking a dog and ran to the lady asking for help."

Sheriff Fitzgerald says the community of Gordon was not on the radar of investigators.


Sheriff Fitzgerald says Jayme is going through a reunification process that includes medical, mental evaluations, and questioning by FBI and local agents.

"It's cases like that we often need a big break," says FBI Special Agent in Charge Justin Tolomeo. "It was Jayme herself who gave us that break."

Jayme's grandfather, Robert Naiberg, said, "Everybody is so happy ... We can't believe it."

Uncle Mike Closs said, "We pray every day, we just hope for her safe return and we can't thank the community enough."

Barron Area School District Superintendent Diane Tremblay says the district will hold a ceremony at some point to celebrate the safe return of Jayme. Tremblay called her student an "extraordinary young woman."

"It has been 88 days of hope for her safe return. Eighty-eight days of prayers for Jayme, her family, friends, our students, staff and community. Eighty-eight days of holding on to the faith that our authorities would never give up, and they certainly did not," Diane Tremblay said. "And finally, 88 days of our close-knit community with the same goal in mind. And that was to bring Jayme home and back into our arms."

Law enforcement are serving search warrants in Gordon. FBI, Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation agents, State Patrol, Douglas County and Barron County officials are working the scene and conducting interviews.


Elizabeth Smart, the Utah woman who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted in 2002, called the news a "miracle." In a post on Instagram, Smart said, "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!!!! "

Hours prior to the news about Jayme broke, Sheriff Fitzgerald was quashing internet rumors that a heavy police presence in Walworth County, in southeastern Wisconsin, was related to the Closs investigation. He called that "false news."

Following is the statement from Sheriff Fitzgerald Thursday night:

Smith told KSTP the family wants justice for her sister and brother-in-law who were murdered. She said the family is focused on supporting Jayme.

The young teenager was missing for 88 days. Her disappearance united people in Barron County and across the state. County buildings dedicated Christmas trees to Jayme, decorating them in her favorite colors and the word "Hope."

"Jayme is an example of why we never lose hope and never stop searching," says the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Two thousand people -- law enforcement officers, first responders and volunteers -- searched for possible clues. The FBI set up a hotline, and thousands of citizen tips were pursued. A $25,000 reward was offered and grew to $50,000. A news conference was held in October with Jayme's aunt, Jennifer Smith, sending a personal message to Jayme: "Your dog, Molly, is waiting for you. She is sleeping in one of your sweatshirts. Grandpa needs new artwork on his fridge... I want that girl's shopping date we planned."

"Jayme, we need you here with us to fill that hole we have in our hearts. We all love you to the moon and back and we will never stop looking for you," she said.

Sheriff Fitzgerald was planning a news conference next week to mark 90 days since her abduction.

Jayme had a pretty good night sleep it was great to know she was next to me all night what a great feeling to have her...

Posted by Jennifer Jean on Saturday, January 12, 2019

Jayme Closs is safe. Media from all over the country have gathered in Barron County for this news conference. It starts at 10 a.m.

Posted by WBAY TV-2 on Friday, January 11, 2019
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

A post shared by Elizabeth Smart (@elizabeth_smart_official) on

We are overjoyed by the news that 13–year-old Jayme Closs from Barron, Wisconsin, has been located alive after nearly 3...

Posted by National Center for Missing & Exploited Children on Thursday, January 10, 2019