BARRON, Wis. — Jake Patterson, who kidnapped 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killed her parents in Wisconsin six months ago, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of intentional homicide and a count of kidnapping.
The 21-year-old defendant, wearing an orange jumpsuit, entered his plea in Barron County Circuit Court in Wisconsin.
The defendant’s father and sister sat in court as Patterson told the judge that he agreed with and understood the plea that will likely keep him in prison for the rest of his life. Patterson wept as he pleaded guilty to each count.
A defense attorney told the court that Patterson wanted to plead guilty from the day he met him.
“He has been consistent that this is exactly what he wants to do,” attorney Richard Jones said.
Sentencing will be on May 24.
Since his arrest in January, Patterson has communicated with TV journalists at least twice. In February, he sent a letter to a journalist for KARE-TV, reportedly expressing his remorse and saying he planned to plead guilty to murder and kidnapping charges. He also called a reporter with WCCO earlier this month, telling her that he has regrets about what happened.
Patterson was accused of fatally shooting Jayme’s parents in their home and kidnapping the teenager in October.
While driving to a cheese factory where he was a temporary employee, Patterson saw Jayme get onto a school bus, and “he knew that was the girl he was going to take,” according to the criminal complaint.
Patterson said he had driven to Jayme’s home in Barron, Wisconsin, twice “with the intent to kidnap” her, the complaint said. During the third time, on October 15, the suspect drove to her home, shot and killed her father, James Closs, at the door. Jayme and her mother, Denise Closs, hid in the bathroom, while her mom held the teenager in a bear hug.
Patterson barged into the home and broke down the bathroom door. He bound Jayme by her hands and ankles and put tape on her mouth. He then fatally shot her mother, the complaint states. He dragged Jayme out to the trunk of his car and headed back to his home, according to the complaint.
Her disappearance set off a massive search. Authorities say Patterson held Jayme captive for 88 days inside his cabin in the remote town of Gordon, Wisconsin.
Jayme told detectives that Patterson would make her hide under his twin-sized bed in his bedroom when he had people over, including repeated visits from his father. The suspect told her that if anyone found out she was there, bad things would happen to her, the complaint states.
When she was under his bed, he stacked totes and laundry bins around it with weights stacked against them so he’d notice if she moved them, the complaint states.
Jayme “stated Patterson would make her stay under the bed for up to 12 hours at a time with no food, water or bathroom breaks.”
On January 10, she escaped and asked for help from a woman walking her dog, who took her to a nearby home and called the police. Patterson was arrested shortly afterward. Prosecutors said he confessed in detail during an interview after his arrest.
What he told a journalist
In a letter to a journalist for KARE-TV, Patterson said he had planned to come clean all along after he was arrested. The letter was in response to two previous letters the reporter said he sent to Patterson in jail last month with questions.
“I knew when I was caught (which I thought would happen a lot sooner), I wouldn’t fight anything,” the letter said. “I tried to give them everything … so they didn’t have to interview Jayme. They did anyways and hurt her more for no reason.”
He added that he planned to plead guilty to avoid a lengthy trial.
Under a question of whether he’s remorseful, he described “huge amounts” of remorse and added, “I can’t believe I did this. … It was really stupid though looking back.”
“The reason I did this is complicated,” it said, followed by an apology in big letters.
“No one will believe or can even imagine how sorry I am for hurting Jayme this much. Can’t express it. I’m Sorry Jayme! For everything. I know it doesn’t mean much,” the letter says.