MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Another Wisconsin community is connected to the Closs family’s tragedy.
On the day Jayme Closs escaped last week, court documents say Jake Patterson drove from Gordon to the town of Haugen, Wisconsin. It’s where his mom lives and where WCCO found more people are wondering what they might have missed.
Haugen is a town of just 300. The news of Jake Patterson’s connections here has rattled the people who call this place home.
Jim Hill’s been a part of this tight community for 40 years.
“It’s a small, close-knit town. A lot of people do things together,” Hill said.
His grocery store is a staple for anyone looking for basic supplies, but, it’s an infrequent customer that people are focused on now.
“When I had seen him in the store like last summer — June or July — he didn’t look that way,” Hill recalled about Jake Patterson.
Patterson’s mom has lived in Haugen for the last few years.
She didn’t answer the door when WCCO stopped by. In a strange twist, WCCO has learned she drives a school bus for the Rice Lake School District. Patterson told investigators he knew he wanted to take Jayme Closs after seeing her get on her bus in nearby Barron.
Christy Haupt lives less than a block from Patterson’s mom. She doesn’t know her well, but with two teenage girls of her own, she spent the last few months praying for Jayme’s safe return.
“For it to happen in such a small town, that’s, like, really scary. Some scary stuff,” Haupt said.
Online records show Jake’s parents divorced in 2007. He went on to graduate in 2015 in Minong where his yearbook lists him as “quietist” in his senior class. On another page, Patterson said, “I’m finally done with school,” and that he planned to join the Marines. The Armed Forces confirm Patterson served for one month that following fall. That’s about the time his mom would have moved to Haugen.
“He was quiet; didn’t say much,” Hill said.
Hill said Patterson didn’t come in often, but that he noticed a change the last time he stopped by.
“I seen him once when he was shaven clean. I don’t remember what date it was or nothing,” Hill said.
“The whole family seemed like they kept to themselves,” he added.
Neighbors told me they haven’t seen the school bus Jake’s mom drives by her driveway since Thursday. They believe they are staying away as they try to cope with all that’s happened.