BARRON, Wis. (WCCO) – Authorities in western Wisconsin have identified the man arrested in connection to the kidnapping of Jayme Closs and the killing of her parents nearly three months ago.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald identified the suspect at a Friday morning news conference as 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson, who is being held on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping.
The sheriff said that Patterson, who has no criminal history in Wisconsin, targeted Jayme specifically and took precautions to hide his identity. It’s not believed that Jayme or her parents had any personal contact with Patterson prior to the Oct. 15, 2018 abduction. Authorities say there is no social media connection between Patterson and Jayme.
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Police arrested Patterson, of Gordon, just minutes after Jayme was found on Thursday evening. Authorities say the 13-year-old gave police a description of Patterson’s car, and they quickly located the vehicle.
Patterson went to school in the area. Dr. Jean Serum, superintendent of Northwood Schools, says Patterson was a quiet but good student who had great friends.
The street where Jayme Closs escaped from Jake Patterson remains closed. Investigators are collecting evidence from in and around the house on Eau Claire Acres in Gordon where it’s believed Patterson held Jayme Closs captive for 88 days.
Authorities say they have recovered a gun consistent with what was used to kill Jayme’s parents, but forensic testing has not confirmed if it is the same weapon.
Authorities say Jayme escaped her captor and was rescued after encountering a woman who was walking her dog in Gordon. The woman brought Jayme to a neighbor, who called 911.
Justin Tolomeo, from the FBI, said that in cases such as this, often investigators need a big break.
“It was Jayme herself who gave us that break,” he said.
Officers brought Jayme to a Duluth-area hospital for overnight evaluation. She has since been cleared.
Jayme is expected to be reunited with her family on Friday after speaking with investigators.
The teenager was missing for 88 days. She disappeared on the morning of Oct. 15, when police were called to her home in Barron, which is about 65 miles south of Gordon. Inside, officers found her parents, 56-year-old James and 46-year-old Denise, dead with gunshot wounds.
In the days and months that followed, massive ground searches and vigils were organized and investigators were flooded with thousands of tips, none of which provided a break in the case.
At the Friday news conference, Fitzgerald said his legs were shaking when he got the news that Jayme had been found.
“It was awesome. The stress and relief … It was awesome,” the sheriff said. “I don’t have a different word.”
Patterson will make his first appearance in court on Jan. 14 at 3:30 p.m.