US

Wisconsin Man Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping Jayme Closs, Killing Her Parents

By Zachary Stieber

The man accused of kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs from her Barron, Wisconsin home pleaded guilty in a courthouse in the town on March 27.

Jake Patterson, 21, pleaded guilty to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping, reported the Duluth News-Tribune. Prosecutors dropped one count of armed burglary.

Patterson faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison but a judge may grant him the possibility of parole. Wisconsin abolished the death penalty in 1853 and has only executed one person in the state’s history.

According to WCCO reporter Liz Collins, family and friends of Jayme attended the hearing and many had tears in their eyes as they left court.

Patterson spoke twice in recent weeks from jail, telling one local reporter that he planned to plead guilty.

“I want Jayme and her relatives to know that. Don’t want them to worry about a trial,” he said.

In another account, Patterson said about the teen he abducted: “I love her.”

Patterson said he wanted to talk to Jayme but realized that would be impossible.

Jayme Closs and her aunt Jennifer Smith
Jayme Closs, 13, right, with her aunt Jennifer Smith, in a photograph taken on Jan. 11, 2019, one day after Closs escaped from captivity in Gordon, Wis. (Jennifer Smith)

The Gordon resident told officers that he decided to kidnap Jayme after he saw her boarding a school bus while driving.

He told authorities that he spotted the girl when he stopped behind a school bus in Barron County and watched her board the vehicle.

“The defendant stated he had no idea who she was nor did he know who lived at the house or how many people lived at the house,” the complaint stated. “The defendant stated, when he saw (Jayme), he knew that was the girl he was going to take.”

Patterson disclosed that he drove to the Closs home twice with the intent of kidnapping the teen but one time there were too many cars out front and the other time there were lights on and people walking around.

Jayme Closs house in Barron Wisconsin
The home where 13-year-old Jayme Closs lived with her parents, James and Denise, in Barron, Wisconsin Oct. 17, 2018. (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP)

He finally struck on Oct. 15, barging his way inside and shooting James and Denise Closs dead. He then grabbed Jayme and fled.

Jayme told investigators that she was asleep in her bedroom that night when she heard her dog barking. She saw someone driving up their driveway and alerted her parents. Her father went to the front door to find out who it was. It was Patterson, armed with a firearm. Jayme said she heard a gunshot and knew her father had just been killed, the complaint stated.

Denise Closs hid with her daughter in the bathroom and called 911 but soon Patterson broke down the door and shot Denise after the mother put tape over her daughter’s mouth at his instruction.

This aerial photo shows the cabin where 13-year-old Jayme Closs was held by Jake Thomas Patterson in the town Gordon, Wis., on Jan. 12, 2019. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune/AP)

Patterson drove her about an hour’s drive away to his cabin in Gordon and told her that “nobody was to know she was there or bad things would happen to her.” When friends or family members visited him in the coming months, he would hide her under his bed and block her in with stacked totes and laundry bins with weights holding them in place.

The criminal complaint stated that Jayme finally escaped on Jan. 10 after Patterson once again made her get under his bed and informed her he was going to be gone five or six hours.

Experts had said that Patterson would not be able to use an insanity defense since he told police investigators that he planned out the abduction and killings, undercutting the hypothetical defense.