Kidnapping suspect watched victim as she got on bus
Barron, Wis. – A man suspected of killing a Wisconsin couple, kidnapping their teenage daughter and holding her captive for three months decided to abduct the girl after spotting her getting on a school bus, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.
Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, told investigators he was driving to his job at a cheese factory one day when he stopped behind a school bus and watched 13-year-old Jayme Closs get on.
At that moment, he said, “he knew that was the girl he was going to take,” the complaint said. Police have said the two did not know each other.
Prosecutors formally charged Patterson on Monday in the slayings and the abduction in Barron, about 90 miles northeast of Minneapolis. He was also charged with an additional count of armed robbery and was scheduled to make his first court appearance later in the day.
Investigators believe he broke into the Closs home in October and then hid Jayme in a remote cabin before she escaped on Thursday. He had gone to the home twice intending to kidnap her but was not able to do it because too many people were around, the complaint said.
On the night she was abducted, Jayme told police, she was asleep in her room when the family dog started barking. She woke her parents as a car came up the driveway.
She and her mother, Denise, hid in the bathroom. They heard a gunshot, and she knew her father, James, had just been killed, according to the complaint.
Denise Closs started to call 911. Patterson broke down the bathroom door, told her to hang up and tape Jayme’s mouth shut. Denise Closs complied and then Patterson shot her, the complaint said.
Patterson, who was dressed head to toe in black, taped Jayme’s hands and ankles and dragged her out to his car. He threw her in the trunk and drove away as sirens began to sound, the complaint said.
He took her to a cabin that he said was his, ordered her into a bedroom and told her to take off her clothes. He put her clothes in a bag and talked about not having evidence. Whenever he had friends over, he made clear that no one could know she was there or “bad things could happen to her,” so she had to hide under the bed, according to the complaint.
Patterson’s defense attorneys, Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, said they believe Patterson can get a fair trial, but they are not sure where.
“It’s been an emotional time for this community and a difficult time for this community. We don’t take that lightly. But we have a job to do in protecting our client,” Jones said.
Police collected more than 3,500 tips following Jayme’s disappearance, but no hard leads emerged.
Then on Thursday, a woman walking her dog spotted Jayme along a road near Gordon, a town about an hour’s drive north of Barron. The woman said the girl begged her for help, saying Patterson had been hiding her in a nearby cabin and that she had escaped when he left her alone.
Neighbors called 911, and officers arrested Patterson within minutes. He has no criminal history in Wisconsin.
The New York Post published photos of the cabin Monday. The images showed a shabby living area with a couch, refrigerator, an old television set and an unfinished ceiling. Exterior photographs show a lean-to loaded with firewood, a three-car garage and an empty box of adult female diapers in a trash can. A sign over the cabin’s front door reads “Patterson’s Retreat.”
Investigators say there’s no evidence of any online interactions between Patterson and Jayme. Her family insists they did not know the man. Her grandfather, Robert Naiberg, told The Associated Press that Jayme told FBI agents she did not know Patterson at all.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said he met Jayme for the first time Sunday, and that she had an “awesome” smile on her face. He said she showed him her room at her aunt’s home in Barron.
“It was a moment I’ll never forget,” he said.