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Authorities: Man killed parents in plot to kidnap 13-year-old Jayme Closs

From the Full report: Read the latest on Jayme Closs, the killing of her parents, her abduction and escape series
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BARRON — A 21-year-old man shot a Wisconsin couple to death at their home in a scheme to kidnap their teenage daughter, then held the girl captive for three months in an isolated North Woods town before she managed to escape, authorities said Friday.

Jake Thomas Patterson

Patterson

Jayme Closs, 13, was skinny, disheveled and wearing shoes too big for her when she approached a stranger and pleaded for help Thursday in the small town of Gordon, where Jake Thomas Patterson lives. Patterson was quickly arrested and jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges.

The news that Jayme was safe set off joy and relief 60 miles away in her hometown of Barron, population 3,300, ending 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 when he learned Jayme had been found.

Two Dead Child Missing

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald speaks during a news conference Friday in Barron regarding the arrest of Jake Thomas Patterson, who allegedly kidnapped Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old girl who went missing in October after her parents were killed.

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 one of the neighbors, Kristin Kasinskas. "She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him."

The sheriff gave no immediate details on what happened to Jayme during her captivity, why she was seized or how she escaped. He said that he did not know if she had been physically abused but that she was hospitalized overnight for observation and released after an exam. Investigators were still interviewing her.

The sheriff said investigators do not believe Patterson and the girl knew each other.

However, Patterson worked for one day in 2016 at the same Jennie-O turkey plant in Barron as Jayme's parents, Jennie-O Turkey Store President Steve Lykken said. Patterson quit the next day, saying he was moving from the area, Lykken said.

Kasinskas called 911 to report the girl had been found after another neighbor out walking her dog encountered Jayme and brought her to Kasinskas' house. Minutes later, Patterson was pulled over by a sheriff's deputy based on a description of his vehicle Jayme provided, authorities said.

Two Dead Child Missing

Kristin Kasinskas, left, husband, Peter, and Jeanne Nutter and her dog Henry head back to their homes after speaking with the media Friday in Gordon. Kristin Kasinskas called 911 on Thursday to report that Jayme Closs, 13, had been found after Nutter, who was out walking her dog, encountered her and brought her to Kasinskas' house. Closs had been missing since her parents were killed in October.

He was scheduled for an initial court appearance Monday. It was not immediately known whether the unemployed Patterson had an attorney.

Jayme's grandfather, Robert Naiberg, said he had been praying for months for the call he received about his granddaughter.

"I thought, 'Good for her she escaped,'" he said.

Two Dead Child Missing

Kristin Kasinskas and her husband, Peter, who live on South Eau Claire Acres Circle, speak with the media Friday in Gordon. Kristin Kasinskas called 911 on Thursday to report that Jayme Closs had been found after another neighbor encountered her and brought her to the Kasinskas house.

Jayme disappeared without from her home near Barron after someone broke in and killed her parents, James and Denise Closs, on Oct. 15. The sheriff said investigators believe Patterson killed them in order to abduct the girl.

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

Patterson had no criminal record, according to the sheriff. 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 map

The woman who first spotted Jayme on Thursday, Jeanne Nutter, said she was walking her dog along a rural road when the girl called out to her, grabbed her and revealed her name.

"I was terrified, but I didn't want to show her that," Nutter, a social worker who spent years working in child protection, told The Associated Press. "She just yelled, 'Please help me! I don't know where I am! I'm lost!'"

Nutter took her to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas. Jayme was quiet, her emotions "pretty flat," Peter Kasinskas said.

Jayme told the couple she didn't know where she was or anything about Gordon, a town of about 644 people in a heavily forested region where logging in the top industry. From what she told them, they believed she was there for most of her disappearance.

After Jayme vanished, detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches. Officials recruited 2,000 volunteers for a huge ground search Oct. 23, but it yielded no clues.

Two Dead-Child Missing

The sign outside Barron City Hall on Friday welcomes Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old northwestern Wisconsin girl who had been missing since her parents were killed in October. Closs was found alive Thursday in the rural town of Gordon, about 60 miles north of her home.

Fitzgerald said in November that 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 from 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."

"It was only a few months ago that we as a community gathered to pray for Jayme's safe return at Barron High School," Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright said at a news conference. "God has answered those prayers."

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