Wisconsin home invasion suspect appears to have no connection to the family – Victim: ‘He killed my parents and took me’

This photo provided by the Barron County Sheriff's Department in Barron, Wis., shows Jake Thomas Patterson, of the Town of Gordon, Wis., who has been jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges in the October killing of a Wisconsin couple and abduction of their teen daughter, Jayme Closs. Closs was found alive Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in the Town of Gordon. (Barron County Sheriff's Department via AP)

By JEFF BAENEN and GRETCHEN EHLKE,  Associated Press  BARRON, Wis. (AP) 01/12 — The grandfather of a northwestern Wisconsin girl who was abducted during a home invasion that left her parents dead said Saturday that the family has no connection to the suspect and doesn’t understand why he targeted her, deepening a mystery that has captivated the state for months.

Someone blasted open the door of James and Denise Closs’ home near Barron in October, gunned the couple down and made off with their 13-year-old daughter, Jayme Closs.

Jayme was missing for nearly three months Jayme approached a stranger in the small, isolated north woods town of Gordon and pleaded for help. Officers arrested 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson minutes later based on Jayme’s description of his vehicle. He was jailed on suspicion of kidnapping and homicide.

This Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 photo shows Jayme Closs, right, with her aunt, Jennifer Smith in Barron, Wis. Jake Thomas Patterson, a 21-year-old man killed a Wisconsin couple in a baffling scheme to kidnap Jayme Closs, their teenage daughter, then held the girl captive for three months before she narrowly managed to escape and reach safety as he drove around looking for her, authorities said. (Jennifer Smith via AP)

 

Investigators have said Patterson’s goal was to kidnap Jayme, but he appears to have no connection to the family. Jayme’s grandfather Robert Naiberg said in a telephone interview Saturday that the only thing the family knows for sure is no one knew Patterson. He said that Jayme told FBI agents she didn’t know him at all.

“He didn’t know Jayme, he didn’t know Denise or Jim,” Naiberg said. “(Jayme) don’t know him from Adam. (But) he knew what he was doing. We don’t know if he was stalking her or what. Did he see her somewhere?”

The news that Jayme was safe set off joy and relief in her hometown of Barron, population 3,300 and about 60 miles (96 kilometers) from where she was found. The discovery ended an all-out search that gripped the state, with many people fearing the worst the longer she was missing.

“My legs started to shake. It was awesome. The stress, the relief — it was awesome,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said, describing the moment he learned Jayme had been found.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald speaks during a news conference, Friday, Jan. 11, 2018, in Barron, Wis., regarding the arrest of Jake Thomas Patterson, who allegedly kidnapped Jayme Closs, Closs, a 13-year-old northwestern Wisconsin girl who went missing in October after her parents were killed, was found alive in the rural town of Gordon, Wis., about about 60 miles north of her home in Barron. Investigators believe Patterson, who was taken into custody shortly after Closs was found, killed her parents because he wanted to abduct her. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

 

Jayme told one of the neighbors in Gordon who took her in that she had walked away from a cabin where she had been held captive.

“She said that this person’s name was Jake Patterson, ‘he killed my parents and took me,'” said another neighbor, Kristin Kasinskas. “She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him.”

The sheriff said investigators are trying to figure out what happened to Jayme during her captivity and why she was seized, and gave no details on how she escaped except to say Patterson was not home at the time. He said there is no evidence Patterson knew Jayme or her family or had been in contact with her on social media.

“I know all of you are searching for the answer why any of this happened,” Fitzgerald said. “Believe me, so are we.”

Patterson took such measures as shaving his head beforehand to avoid leaving evidence at the scene, the sheriff said. A shotgun was recovered from the home where Jayme was believed held, according to Fitzgerald.

This photo provided by the Barron County Sheriff’s Department in Barron, Wis., shows Jake Thomas Patterson, of the Town of Gordon, Wis., who has been jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges in the October killing of a Wisconsin couple and abduction of their teen daughter, Jayme Closs. Closs was found alive Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in the Town of Gordon. (Barron County Sheriff’s Department via AP)

 

Property records show that the cabin belonged to Patterson’s father at the time of Jayme’s disappearance.

The sheriff said that he did not know whether Jayme had been physically abused.

Naiberg, Jayme’s grandfather, said he spent a few hours with her on Friday. No one pressed her to talk, he said, adding that FBI agents and doctors advised them to let her speak when she’s ready. He said she was largely silent and did not talk about how Patterson had kept her confined.

Patterson was scheduled for an initial court appearance Monday. It was not immediately known whether the unemployed Patterson had an attorney. Prosecutors anticipate filing homicide and kidnapping charges against him on Monday. With those charges will come a criminal complaint that could reveal more details.

Patterson remained largely an enigma Saturday.

He has no criminal record, the sheriff said. He worked for one day in 2016 at the same Jennie-O turkey plant in Barron as Jayme’s parents. But the sheriff said it did not appear Patterson interacted with the couple during his brief time there.

He graduated in 2015 from Northwood High School, where he was on the quiz bowl team and was a good student with a “great group of friends,” said District Superintendent Jean Serum.

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.”

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald is greeted early Friday, Jan. 11, 2018 in Rice Lake, Wis. Jayme Closs, a Wisconsin teenager missing for nearly three months after her parents were killed in the family home was found alive by a woman who stumbled across the 13-year-old girl. 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. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

 

Over the past few months, detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches for Jayme, including one that drew 2,000 volunteers but yielded no clues.

In November, the sheriff said 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 after witnesses recognized her abductors on an “America’s Most Wanted” episode.

Smart said in a telephone interview that Jayme’s story is “why we can never give up hope on any missing child.”

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For more stories on Jayme’s abduction and her parents’ deaths: https://apnews.com/JaymeCloss

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Associated Press writers Todd Richmond and Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City and Amy Forliti in Gordon also contributed to this report along with AP news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York.

https://www.apnews.com/bfb0e3efd91d45ada0d3e57bc375c45a

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Arrests, FBI, Homicide, Juveniles, Kidnapping/Hostages, Murder/Attempted Murder, Victims of Crime

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