By John Lauritsen and Jeff Wagner
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s an astonishing end to 88 days of anguish. Friday evening, a small Wisconsin town is celebrating the safe return of Jayme Closs.
Thirteen-year-old Jayme Closs was kidnapped almost three months ago from her Wisconsin home and was located alive Thursday evening, according to the Barron County Sheriff’s Office. As of Friday evening, she had been reunited with some of her family, with more reunions to follow.
“It’s amazing, the will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said.
On Oct. 15, 2018, a frantic 911 call led police to the Closs home in Barron. Someone had killed Jayme’s parents — James, 56, and Denise, 46 — and Jayme was gone without a trace.
Investigators say 21-year-old Jake Patterson held Jayme Closs captive in the northern Wisconsin town of Gordon, an hour away from Jayme’s home. They said he planned the kidnapping and used a shotgun to kill her parents.
Up until Thursday, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald has said investigators had not received any credible leads in this case, despite thousands of tips.
“I could tell you the suspect planned his actions and took many steps to hide his identity from law enforcement,” Fitzgerald said.
Authorities say the suspect carefully planned the crimes, including shaving his head prior to ensure his hair wasn’t left at the scene.
But in the end, it was Jayme Closs who gave herself the break that was needed. She escaped on foot from a home she where was being held in the town of Gordon, about 65 miles from her home. She approached a dog walker who took her to a neighbor’s to call 911.
WCCO’s Mary McGuire spoke with a woman over the phone who confirmed she was the one who first encountered Jayme Closs on Thursday afternoon. Closs approached her and told her that she needed help.
“I was at the right place at the right time,” she said. The woman did not want to be identified by name.
A patrol sergeant found a vehicle that fit the description of the suspect’s vehicle and arrested the driver, later identified as Patterson.
Sheriff Fitzgerald said Patterson was not home when Jayme Closs escaped and may have been out looking for her when he was arrested. He also said it didn’t appear that there was any social media connection between the kidnapper and Jayme Closs, and authorities are still investigating how he became aware of her.
Fitzgerald added that Jayme Closs was “doing as well as circumstances allow.”
Patterson will make his first appearance Jan. 14 at 3:30 p.m.
Timeline Of Jayme Closs Case