UPDATE (11 a.m. ET): Closs’ captor was identified as Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, from Gordon, Wisconsin, at a law enforcement news conference Friday morning. Patterson, who has no prior criminal history, was found in a nearby vehicle minutes after Jayme was discovered by local Gordon residents. He is being held in the Barron County jail on two counts of first-degree homicide for the killing of Jayme’s parents and one count of kidnapping.
Law enforcement noted Friday that Jayme is believed to be the intended target of Patterson’s crimes and was taken against her will. Patterson, who had no known connection with the Closs family, took deliberate actions to hide the thoroughly planned kidnapping from law enforcement and the public.
Prosecutors handling the case announced Friday that they are preparing a criminal complaint. They thanked God for answering the prayers of so many people.
The prayers of a small Wisconsin community have been graciously answered after Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old girl who vanished after her parents were murdered in their home back in October, was found alive Thursday morning. According to Fox News, a dirty and malnourished Closs made her identity known to a dog walker in Gordon, Wisconsin, who helped her call the authorities. The girl’s suspected captor was tracked down minutes later, authorities said.
“Praise the Lord,” Sue Allard, Jayme’s aunt, told the Star Tribune between sobs after hearing the news. “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.”
On Thursday at around 4 p.m., Closs flagged down a woman who was walking her dog. The girl appeared skinny and dirty, simply telling the woman that she “wanted help,” according to reports.
Recognizing Jayme, the woman knocked on the door of nearby residents Peter and Kristin Kasinskas, telling the couple, “This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!”
Peter Kasinskas told the Star Tribune that Closs appeared weak and disoriented, showing little emotion. The girl told him she didn’t know where she was, but she believes she was in the same area the entire time she was missing. During the 20 minutes Kloss was in Kasinskas’ home, she refused food and water.
“I honestly still think I’m dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost,” Peter Kasinskas recalled. “It was scary and awesome at the same time. My jaw just went to the floor.”
Closs’ grandfather, Robert Naiberg, told the Star Tribune Thursday that Jayme was being treated at a hospital and will soon be reunited with her relatives.
“I’m going to hug her. Squeeze her,” he said, unable to contain his emotions. “I’ve been in the dumpster for three months.”
“I mean, I’m shocked,” Closs’ aunt, Kelly Engelhardt, told reporters. “It’s what we’ve prayed for every single day.”
The story of Closs’ disappearance and her parents’ double-murder gained national attention when it was first reported three months ago. Jayme was in the family’s Barron County home when her parents were shot, but vanished shortly after, prompting a statewide investigation that involved the FBI. The family’s house is about 65 miles from where Jayme was found Thursday.
Back in November, “The Voice” contestant and Barron native Chris Kroeze dedicated his performance of “Let It Be” to Closs.
“This dedication song has a good message of hope,” Kroeze said. “My hometown has been through a lot lately, there was an abduction of a 13-year-old girl from Barron. Her name is Jayme Closs. She still hasn’t been found. It’s just unsettling you know it doesn’t happen there. This is for Barron.”
Little is known of Jayme’s current physical or mental condition. The Barron County Sheriff’s Department announced in a Facebook post Thursday evening that they will hold a news conference Friday morning at around 10 C.T.
“… we want to especially thank the family for their support and patience while this case was ongoing,” Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald wrote. “We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!”
Please continue to pray for Jayme Closs and her family as they begin the long road to recovery following this terrible tragedy.