BARRON COUNTY, Wisc. — There were screams in the background of the 911 call, so three deputies with the Barron County Sheriff’s Department rushed to the Closs family home just after midnight on October 15.
Lights blaring, the deputies passed just one vehicle traveling in the other direction. The maroon, older-style vehicle, which one deputy believed to be a Ford Taurus, yielded to the deputies as they sped to the home.
They didn’t realize it then, but the driver of that vehicle was Jake Patterson. And in the trunk lay 13-year-old Jayme Closs, bound by her wrists and ankles, her mouth covered by tape.
The details of that near-encounter, included in the criminal complaint against Patterson released Monday, show how stunningly close police came to confronting the suspect and finding Jayme in the moments after her kidnapping.
But instead, they arrived to the home to find James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, dead at the scene, and no trace of Jayme.
It would be months before Jayme was heard from again, when she escaped captivity and found a woman walking her dog who led her to a nearby home and called 911.
Patterson, 21, was arrested that same day, and he confessed to fatally shooting James and Denise Closs and abducting Jayme, according to the complaint. A judge ordered him held on $5 million bail at his arraignment on Monday in Barron County, and he is due back in court February 6.
Public Defenders Richard Jones and Charles Glynn, who represent Patterson, spoke with WCCO before Monday’s court appearance but did not share specifics about the case or confirm that Patterson had confessed. The lawyers have not responded to multiple CNN requests for comment.
Police were about 20 seconds too late
Both Patterson and Jayme noted how close they came to police in their interviews with investigators, according to the complaint.
Jayme said that when Patterson abducted her he taped her hands and ankles together and placed her in the trunk of an older red, four-door vehicle.
In the trunk, she heard the sirens of two squad cars drive by “a very short time” after Patterson started driving, the complaint states.
Patterson, too, said he was aware of the near-encounter with police. After he killed the Closs parents and put Jayme in the trunk, he took off the black mask he had been wearing and started to drive away in his older red Ford Taurus, the complaint states.
He said he had driven “what he thought to be 20 seconds from the house” when he yielded to three passing squad cars traveling toward the Closs home with their emergency lights and sirens on.
If there had been an encounter with police, it likely would have been violent. Patterson told investigators that if he had been stopped by police on his way from the Closs home, he “most likely would have shot at the police” with the loaded shotgun he had in the front seat.
According to a timeline in the complaint, the 911 call to police from the Closs home came in at about 12:53 a.m. and the deputies arrived at about 1:00 a.m. Patterson told investigator he was at the Closs home for only about four minutes.
Police again encounter the red vehicle
Still, it was not the last time that police came across that red vehicle.
When police finally found Jayme on January 10, they made the decision to drive her away from the area for her safety, wary that the suspect might try to find her.
As one deputy and Jayme drove away from the scene, they saw a red vehicle — either a Kia or a Ford, the deputy said — approaching in the other direction. The deputy asked Jayme if that was the suspect’s car, but she said she didn’t know. She did say she thought his car was a Ford. The deputy informed her police colleagues about the red car she had passed, the complaint states.
The officers ran the license plate of the red vehicle and found that it was registered to someone with the same last name as the man Jayme identified as the suspect. An officer nearby then observed a lone male driver in the red vehicle and noticed the car had a broken taillight and a non-functioning rear license plate light.
So police followed the vehicle and stopped it as another officer approached on the passenger side. The driver was instructed to put his hands in the air and open the door.
He said his name was Jake Patterson and he knew what this was about, the complaint states. “I did it,” he told them.