BARRON COUNTY, Wisc. — The suspect accused of killing James and Denise Closs and kidnapping their 13-year-old daughter, Jayme, first spotted her when he was on his way to work, as she was getting into a school bus, according to a criminal complaint released Monday by the Barron County District Attorney.
“The defendant states, when he saw (Jayme) he knew that was the girl he was going to take,” the complaint states.
But he did not know her name until after he abducted her, and only learned the names of her parents from news programs and social media posts about the killings, the complaint states.
The startling criminal complaint comes on the same day that Jake Patterson, 21, made his first court appearance in Barron County to face charges of intentional homicide, kidnapping and armed burglary. Judge James C. Babler set Patterson’s bail at $5 million and ordered that a DNA sample be collected from him.
The judge also ordered that Patterson could not possess firearms, and could not have contact with Jayme and Patterson’s neighbors who were involved in Jayme’s escape. Patterson, who appeared at the hearing in a video conference, did not enter a plea.
Patterson faces up to life in prison if convicted of the homicide charge. His next court date is February 6.
Last Thursday, Jayme was found alive about 70 miles from her home in rural northwestern Wisconsin. Patterson is accused of shooting and killing Jayme’s parents before abducting the 13-year-old from her home on October 15.
But after going missing for 88 days, Jayme was found walking down a road in Gordon, Wisconsin, in frigid weather without a coat and gloves. She had fled the home where law enforcement says she was being kept, and came across a woman walking her dog. That woman then took Jayme to a nearby home and called police.
The complaint is based on information from deputies, Jayme Closs, and Patterson, and represents the first time their perspectives have been made public.
Patterson told investigators that he had been to the house twice previously before October 15 to try to kidnap her, the complaint states.
A week prior, he drove to the home but was scared off because there were all kinds of cars in the driveway, he told investigators in the complaint. A day or two later, he again drove to the Closs home but saw the lights were on and people were walking around, so he decided not to go through with the plan, he told investigators.
But on October 15, Jayme told investigators that she got up to learn why her dog was barking and saw a vehicle coming up their driveway. The suspect then shot and killed her father at the door as she and her mother hid in the bathroom, the complaint states, and her mother held her in a bear hug.
Patterson fired at the doorknob and pushed the door open with his shoulder, according to the complaint.
He then broke down the bathroom door and told her mother to put tape over Jayme’s mouth, but she struggled to do so, according to the complaint. He then put tape around Jayme’s mouth himself, bound her by the hands and ankles, and then fatally shot her mother, the complaint states. He dragged her out to the trunk of his car and headed her back to his home, the complaint states.
The complaint said that Jayme “stated she heard the sirens of two squad cars drive by a short time after Patterson began driving.”
Public Defenders Richard Jones and Charles Glynn, who represent Patterson, told WCCO before Monday’s court appearance they understand how hard the case had hit the community.
“This is a tragic situation from every perspective. A lot of heavy hearts, a lot of thoughts and prayers going around,” Glynn said. “You’ve seen how people have come together the last few months, there’s going to be a whole lot of healing that needs to go on in this community from every perspective, and we have all the faith in the world that will take place.”
They did not share many specifics about their client’s case, WCCO reported. The lawyers have not responded to multiple CNN requests for comment.
3 months in captivity, and an escape
Once Jayme was in captivity, the suspect took her clothes and other items and destroyed them to hide evidence, the complaint states.
Jayme told detectives that Patterson would make her hide under his twin-sized bed in his bedroom when he had friends or relatives over, including repeated visits from his father. The suspect “made it clear that nobody was to know she was there or bad things would happen to her,” the complaint states.
When she was under his bed, he stacked totes and laundry bins around the bed with weights and barbells stacked against them so she could not move them without him noticing, the complaint states.
“One time, (Jayme) stated she accidentally moved one of the totes when she was told to hide under the bed and Patterson told her something bad would happen if she did it again.”
In one instance, the suspect “hit her ‘really hard’ on her back with what she described as a handle for something used to clean blinds” when he got mad at her.
The suspect would also turn music on in his room so she couldn’t hear what was happening if there was anyone else in the home, the complaint states.
After three months in captivity, on January 10, he told Jayme he was going to leave for five to six hours and made her go under the bed. When he left, she pushed the weights away from the bed, put on a pair of his shoes and walked out of the house toward a woman walking a dog.
In his confession to police, Patterson explained how he took a number of steps to carry out his plan and conceal his identity.
For one, he stole a pair of license plates and put them onto his vehicle because he did not want his own plates to be spotted. He also disconnected the vehicle’s dome light so that he would not be visible when he opened the door, the complaint states.
In addition, he wiped down the shotgun wearing gloves so there would be no fingerprints on them. He also shaved his face and his head hair prior to the kidnapping so that he would not leave any DNA evidence at the scene, the complaint states.
He thought he had gotten away with it, too, he told police — until he arrived home on January 10 to see that Jayme was not under his bed, and that her footprints were outside. He got into his car and drove around looking for her, and when he returned home he was met by police.
“The defendant stated it was at that point that he knew he was caught,” the complaint says.
Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright pointed out the lengths Patterson went to cover his tracks. Wright argued Patterson was a danger to the public, a flight risk who had no ties to Barron County.
“The allegations in the complaint are that he worked at Saputo cheese factory for two days. The only reason other than that for being in Barron County was to kidnap Jayme,” Wright said told the judge.
It was during one of those drives to Saputo when Patterson told investigators he stopped behind a school bus and watched Jayme get on it, the complaint said. He bought the mask he used in the kidnapping on what he thought was his second day at Saputo, according to the complaint.
Sandy Vassiadis, a company spokeswoman, said Patterson was a temporary employee who was referred by a temp agency. He didn’t show up to his third day of work at the Saputo blue cheese manufacturing facility in Almena, so the company ended his assignment.
‘They want justice’
Several members of Jayme’s family attended Monday’s hearing. Angela De Andriano, Jayme’s cousin, told CNN in a phone interview they wanted to be there because “they want justice.”
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Patterson acted alone and that he had a “very targeted approach” in planning an attack on the family.
“I did meet with Jayme last night, and that shy 13-year-old girl that we’ve been describing for 88 days has got a big smile on her face,” he said Monday.
Nearly three years ago, Patterson worked for one day at the same meat products facility where Jayme’s parents worked — the Jennie-O Turkey Store plant in Barron — the company’s president said. Patterson quit, saying he was moving from the area, according to the company.
Authorities have said they don’t believe Patterson crossed paths with Jayme’s parents there.
Fitzgerald said that he did not believe there was a connection between Patterson and the Closs family, and there was no social media contact or digital footprint connecting them.
“All I know is that she was able to get out of that house and get help and the people recognized her as Jayme Closs right away,” Fitzgerald said over the weekend.
Closs was released from a Minnesota hospital Friday and is staying in Barron, Wisconsin, with an aunt.
Jayme “had a pretty good night sleep,” her aunt Jennifer Smith posted Saturday to Facebook.
“It was great to know she was next to me all night,” she wrote. “What a great feeling to have her home.”