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Wisconsin man arrested in teen’s abduction, parents’ deaths

Last Updated Jan 11, 2019 at 9:35 am PST

In this Oct. 17, 2018, file photo, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald speaks during a news conference about 13-year-old Jayme Closs who was missing since her parents were found dead in their home in BArron, Wis. The northwest Wisconsin girl has been found alive, authorities said Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP, File)
Summary

Suspect in custody; Jayme Closs found after being missing for nearly three months after parents were killed

Investigators believe suspect 'planned his actions and took many steps to hide his identity'

BARRON, Wis. — A 21-year-old man is jailed in the deaths of a Wisconsin couple he’s accused of killing because he wanted to kidnap their teenage daughter, investigators said Friday, a day after the girl approached a stranger along a rural road saying she’d been abducted in October and held against her will.

Jake Thomas Patterson was taken into custody shortly after 13-year-old Jayme Closs sought help from a woman walking her dog in a rural, heavily wooded neighborhood near the small town of Gordon, about 60 miles (96.5 kilometers) north of Barron. Jayme disappeared from her family’s home near Barron after her parents were killed Oct. 15.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said during a news conference Friday that Jayme was taken against her will. He said investigators believe Patterson killed Jayme’s parents because he wanted to abduct her, and that Patterson “planned his actions and took many steps to hide his identity.”

Fitzgerald said investigators believe the girl was “the only target” and don’t believe Patterson had any contact with the family. Douglas County Sheriff Thomas Dalbec said Patterson was jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges.

Patterson lived just three doors down from Kasinskas, but Kasinskas said she didn’t realize it until police identified him as the suspect. She said she never saw Patterson on her street or in town, and doesn’t remember seeing him since he was in high school.

Kasinskas said she taught Patterson science in middle school, but added: “I don’t really remember a ton about him.”

“He seemed like a quiet kid,” she said. “I don’t recall anything that would have explained this, by any means.”

Fitzgerald said Closs was taken to a hospital but has since been medically cleared and released. She was not being interviewed by law enforcement, the sheriff said.

Jayme went missing after police discovered someone had broken into the family’s home outside Barron and fatally shot her parents, James and Denise Closs. Jayme was nowhere to be found. The Barron County Sheriff’s Department said the girl had likely been abducted.

Detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches in the effort to find Jayme. Some tips led officials to recruit 2,000 volunteers for a massive ground search on Oct. 23, but it yielded no clues.

“I have a gut feeling she’s still alive”

Fitzgerald said in November that he kept similar cases in the back of his mind as he worked to find Jayme, including the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, who was 14 when she was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. Smart was rescued nine months later with the help of two witnesses who recognized her abductors from an “America’s Most Wanted” episode.

“I have a gut feeling she’s (Jayme’s) still alive,” Fitzgerald said at the time.

On Friday, Smart posted on her Instagram account that it was a “miracle” Jayme had been found alive. Smart said the girl’s family should be given “space and privacy on their road to finding a new sense of normal and moving forward.”

“Whatever other details may surface, the most important will still remain that she is alive,” Smart said.

 

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

RELATED: A timeline of events in the Jayme Closs disappearance case

During the 20 minutes Jayme was in their home, Peter and Kristin Kasinskas said they tried to make her feel more comfortable. They offered her water and food, but she declined both. Jayme was quiet, her emotions “pretty flat,” Peter Kasinskas said.

Jayme told the couple she didn’t know where she was or anything about Gordon, a town home to about 644 people in a heavily forested region where logging in the top industry. From what she told them, they believed she was there for most of her disappearance.

FILE – In this Oct. 23, 2018, file photo, a Barron County, Wis., sheriff’s vehicle is parked outside the family home where James Closs and Denise Closs were found fatally shot on Oct. 15. The Barron County Sheriff’s Department said on its Facebook page that the missing teenager Jayme Closs has been found alive Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, and that a suspect was taken into custody. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen, File)

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on its website that Jayme was found in the town at 4:43 p.m. Thursday, and that a suspect was taken into custody 11 minutes later.

Jayme’s grandfather, Robert Naiberg, told the AP on Friday that he’d been praying for months for the call he received Thursday about his granddaughter being found alive.

Naiberg said his daughter called him with the news, saying Jayme reported having been held by “a guy in the woods” but was able to escape.

Sue Allard, Jayme’s aunt, told the Star Tribune newspaper that she could barely express her joy after learning the news Thursday night.

“Praise the Lord,” Allard said between sobs. “It’s the news we’ve been waiting on for three months. I can’t wait to get my arms around her. I just can’t wait.”