On October 15, 2018, one Jake Thomas Patterson broke into the Closs home in Barron, Wisconsin after midnight. He fatally shot James and Denise Closs, and abducted their 13-year-old daughter Jayme. Jayme was held captive in Gordon, Wisconsin for 88 days until she managed to escape on January 10, 2019.
Patterson was arrested shortly after Jayme's escape. He confessed that he had abducted Jayme and murdered her parents. On May 24, 2019, he was sentenced to 2 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Jayme was the only child of her parents, 56-year-old James and 46-year-old Denise. Patterson had planned to snatch Jayme on October 5, but when he noticed activity in the home, he feared he might leave a witness. He tried again 2 days later, but again, was deterred by the potential of being caught. At this point, he knew he may need a weapon to get Jayme out of the house.
So on October 15, he made his third and final visit to the Closs household. He armed himself with a shotgun and parked his car at the end of their driveway. At 12:53 AM, wearing a ski mask and black coat, he approached the front door of the home.
James, believing that the late night disturbance was the police, shone his flashlight through the glass door and asked Patterson to show his badge. Instead, he told him to "open the fucking door" and fatally shot the patriarch of the family in the doorway. He forced his way inside and checked every room in the house to ensure he would leave no witnesses behind.
He found Denise and Jayme huddled in the locked bathroom together. Denise was comforting a crying Jayme, who had just heard her father get shot downstairs. Patterson shot the bathroom door down, while Denise was able to make a 911 call form inside.
Denise was unable to speak to the operator, but the operator heard a disturbance and yelling before the call was disconnected. Patterson left Denise alive while he bound Jayme's wrists and ankles with duct tape. And then, once he was satisfied that she knew her 13-year-old was going to be taken, he shot and killed Denise.
Patterson dragged Jayme outside, almost slipping on James' blood on the way out. He put her in the trunk of his car and drove away. 911 responders arrived on the scene in 4 minutes, so quickly, in fact, that Patterson pulled over for 20 seconds on the Closs' road for the passing police cars.
Neighbors said after the fact that they had heard gunshots, but because hunting was common in the area, dismissed them... even though it was almost 1 in the morning.
Patterson drove Jayme to his cabin and made her change into a different pair of pajamas. He forced her under his mattress and sealed off all exits to his home before going to sleep.
SEARCH AND ESCAPE
Police and volunteers searched for Jayme for weeks. By October 26, a $50,000 reward was announced for any information leading to her safe return. Investigators reviewed and investigated more than 2,000 tips, but during the 88 days Jayme was held captive, they didn't have any suspects in the case.
Patterson was keeping Jayme in his father's home in Gordon, Wisconsin. Jayme told investigators that when family would visit, she would be hidden under his bed. And when he left from time to time, she would be barricaded under the bed with bags, laundry bins, and weights so he would know if she moved a muscle while he was gone. Patterson's family visited every Saturday, and she was forced under a twin bed the whole time. Once, Patterson beat Jayme because he believed that she had moved.
He hosted his family for Christmas, and told Jayme he would kill her if she moved. Patterson admitted that he had sexual fantasies about the 13-year-old, but never acted on them because he felt guilty about killing her parents.
Jayme was, most certainly, terrified. But not as terrified as Patterson believed her to be. He thought that she was so afraid of him that she would never make any escape attempts. In fact, he said he never even put any special locks on the doors because he knew she wouldn't try to escape. They slept in the same bed, so he would know if she tried to leave in the night. And he only let her outside rarely, for quick walks after checking thoroughly for bystanders.
But one afternoon, on January 10, 2019, Patterson said that he would be leaving for a few hours. He boxed her in under the bed, their usual routine. But this time was different. Once he had left, she pushed out all of the objects far enough to wriggle out from under the bed, threw on a pair of Patterson's shoes, and ran.
She came across a local woman, Jeanne Nutter, who was walking her dog. Jeanne recognized Jayme from the extensive media coverage, and took her to a neighbor's house. Police were immediately called, and Jayme told them that Jake Patterson had killed her parents, and he was holding her prisoner just a few houses away. Jayme was calm, quiet, and dazed during the interview, and the neighbors said she was surprised that they recognized her from news coverage, not realizing how big the story was.
For her safety, Jayme was removed from the area. Using the description of his car that Jayme provided, police were able to spot it within minutes. Once the deputy stopped him, Patterson got out of the car, claiming "I did it". After a brief stay in the hospital, Jayme was released to her aunt, Jennifer Smith.
The company Jayme's parents worked for, Hormel, had announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to Jayme's rescue. On January 24, they announced the reward would go directly to Jayme, as she rescued herself.
JAKE THOMAS PATTERSON
With genuinely no persuading, Patterson confessed to kidnapping Jayme and killing her parents. Strangely enough, he had no criminal history in Wisconsin. And then, in minutes, he was charged with 2 counts of first-degree intentional homicide and kidnapping.
He plead guilty and was sentenced to 2 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murders, and an additional 40 years for the kidnapping. He was not charged with anything in relation to Jayme's captivity to avoid bringing Jayme in for questioning so she didn't need to relive the trauma.
Patterson did not have any contact with Jayme before he took her. Friends and relatives of Jayme had never heard his name or seen him before. He claimed that one day, he saw her getting off the school bus and knew "that she was the girl he wanted to take".
"When we first found out that it was this random act, I think we were all shell-shocked," Barron County Sheriff Christ Fitzgerald remembered.
Though at some points he said that the crime was an impulse decision, he spent a lot of time preparing, even going to the Closs house twice before the kidnapping and murder to scout it out.
Thankfully, Patterson did not seem to regularly abuse Jayme while she was in captivity. He said that they would watch TV, play board games, talk and cook. He also said he plead guilty to spare Jayme the trauma of a trial. So in his own twisted way, it does seem like he cared for her. Too bad, not good enough!
At Patterson's arraignment, his family was heartbroken and distraught. "Something went terribly wrong, nobody had any clues. We are absolutely heartbroken," his grandfather said. His father wrote a note of apology to Jayme. I can't imagine how horrifying it must be to know you were in the home where a child was being held captive, forced under a bed by threat of death after her parents were murdered in front of her.
Patterson is now in jail, where he will spend the rest of his sad, sorry life. He had to transfer to a maximum security prison for his own safety, because other prisoners were not thrilled with his crimes against a child.
Jayme went back to school when the school year restarted in 2019, living with her aunt and uncle. They reported that the teen spent the summer hiking, reconnecting with friends, and celebrating her 14th birthday.
"I'm very happy to be home and getting back to the activities that I enjoy," she said. "I love hanging out with all my friends, and I feel stronger every day." The family's attorney remembered Jayme's parents, mentioning their strength and caring heart that they had so obviously passed down to their daughter.
In a statement, Jayme talked about how it was his belief that Jayme was afraid of him that allowed her to save herself. "Jake Patterson can never take away my courage. He thought he could control me, but he couldn't. I feel like what he did is what a coward would do. I was brave. He was not." She watched his routine and made him confident that she was too afraid to leave, and then turned on him. Like an absolute badass.
I remember this case like it was yesterday, because it happened so recently. I remember seeing a Twitter Moment that 2 parents had been shot and killed, which was heartbreaking, but I wasn't sure how it became national news. But then I saw that their daughter was gone, presumed abducted, and I got it. I followed the story closely.
I cannot imagine the resilience of this girl. In the middle of the night, she heard her dad get shot. She hid in the bathroom, terrified, until he shot his way in. He tied her up, and killed her mother in front of her. She was thrown into a trunk and driven away. The next 88 days, she spent in the captivity of a lunatic. She spent time under beds, forced not to move or scream. And more than that, she had to mourn the murder of her parents and come to terms with the fact that they were gone while sleeping in the same bed as the man who killed them.
But she persisted, and she saved herself. She learned his routine. She let him think she was terrified of him. She made him believe she would never attempt to escape. And then she did. She got out and she saved herself. And now, she lives with the brutal loss of her parents and the trauma of her abduction, but with an army of friends, family, and supporters who are surrounding her in love.
And thankfully, the absolute ass hat who took her will live out the rest of his days behind bars, because he was outsmarted by a child who is 3,000 times the person he will ever be.
I am so happy this story ended semi happily. Denise and James lost their lives, and my heart breaks for them. But I'm sure they would rejoice to know their daughter survived and is thriving. I hope Jayme continues to process what happened to her, and goes on to live the life she took back for herself.