Authorities have released new details on the man suspected of kidnapping 13-year-old Wisconsin girl, Jayme Closs, and murdering her parents back in October. Closs was discovered Thursday when she made her identity known to a dog walker in Gordon, Wisconsin, who helped her call the authorities.
The girl’s suspected captor was later identified as Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, from Gordon, Wisconsin. 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.
Gordon residents Peter and Kristin Kasinskas answered their door Thursday afternoon when local woman Jeanne Nutter, who encountered Closs while walking her dog, knocked for help. In an interview with the Star Tribune, Peter Kasinskas described Closs as 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 Closs was in Kasinskas’ home, she refused food and water.
“It was like I was seeing a ghost,” he recalled. “It was scary and awesome at the same time. My jaw just went to the floor.”
On Friday, Kristin Kasinskas shared some details about the girl’s suspected captor with The Associated Press. Kasinskas said she didn’t know Jake Thomas Patterson, though he lived three doors down from her. She said she was his science middle school science teacher but described him as “quiet.” She added that she had not seen him during the three months Closs was missing.
Law enforcement noted Friday that Jayme is believed to be the “target” of Patterson’s crimes and was taken against her will. Patterson, who had no known connection to the Closs family, took deliberate actions to hide his identity and location from law enforcement and the public.
Kristin Kasinskas said she did not know why Closs was targeted, but the teen told her that Patterson “killed my parents and took me.”
Jeanne Nutter, who was approached by Closs while walking her dog, told the AP she was “was terrified” when she first recognized Closs — dirty and malnourished, with matted hair — but wanted to “get her to a safe place.”
Neighbor Daphne Ronning told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Patterson’s parents moved to their home in Gordon about 15 years ago. She said the couple moved away when Patterson and his brother became older, but the young men continued to use the home.
“We had some problems with them when they were teenagers — we caught them siphoning gas,” Ronning said. “My husband talked with them and there was never anything else.”
The superintendent of Northwood School District, where Patterson and his brother attended middle school and high school, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the suspected killer and kidnapper was a “good student” though “quiet.”
“He was a member of our quiz bowl team” Jean Serum recalled, describing the extracurricular event as a “battle of the brainiacs” competition between schools. Patterson, who graduated in 2015, did not participate in sports or other extracurricular activities.
Jayme Closs was medically cleared and released from the hospital Friday morning, Fox News reported. Her escape and discovery are being celebrated as both an answer to prayer and a testament to the tireless efforts of law enforcement to call attention to her disappearance.
“It’s amazing, the will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said at a news conference Friday.
Please continue to pray for Jayme Closs and her family as they begin the long road to recovery.