All Jayme Closs did was get on a school bus. The 13-year-old middle-school student was just going about her daily routine when 21-year-old Jake Patterson spotted her in Barron, Wisconsin. Patterson decided she would be his. And though the brave girl would survive his malicious obsession, the months that followed were made of nightmarish horror.
Having never met Closs, Patterson put a heinous plan into action that involved a 12-gauge shotgun snatched from his father, shaving his head and face to leave no evidence behind, and a homicidal home invasion that left the girl an orphan. Patterson drove to the Closs home twice before choosing October 15 to break in. He shot her father, James Closs, first. Then Patterson stormed into the bathroom where the girl and her mother Denise were hiding. Denise had already called 911, but the police would arrive too late stop Patterson. Patterson demanded—likely at gunpoint—the mother cover her child’s mouth in duct tape, then he fatally shot her too. He’d later tell police this was the plan, kill anyone who might get in his way. He had more shotgun shells in case the police confronted him. According to his own account, they just missed him. As Patterson made his getaway with Closs tied-up in his car’s trunk, he yielded to three squad cars with lights ablaze that were racing to the family home turned murder scene.
In the weeks that followed, the authorities and the residents of Barron searched exhaustively for Closs. Fear gripped the small town as neighbors feared the worst. For 88 days, Closs was held captive in Patterson’s cabin. In that time, the child-abducting murderer had guests over. During their stays, he forced the kidnapped girl to hide under his twin bed. The New York Times reports, “Patterson would box her in with totes and laundry bins that he secured with barbell weights.” He’d play music so any noise she made would go unheard. Closs later told authorities that sometimes she’d be left there for 12 hours with no access to food, water, or bathroom breaks.
Days, weeks, months, passed like this. Thanksgiving and Christmas too. But Closs would escape her captor. On January 10, Patterson told her he’d be gone for a few hours, then left her in her under-bed prison. The resilient girl used that time to pry herself out, grabbed a pair of his shoes—ill-fitting and on the wrong feet—and ran out into the Wisconsin winter in search of safety. She found a road and on it Jeanne Nutter, a local woman who was out walking her dog. According to Nutter’s statement to police, Closs said, “I’m Jayme Closs. I don’t know where I am. Please help — I want to go home.”
Closs was soon in the protection of the police, and Patterson was swiftly apprehended. He has since confessed to the murders of James and Denise Closs and the abduction of Jayme, offering chilling details like those above. He is being charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, kidnapping, and armed burglary; he is being held on $5 million bail. Patterson’s family claims they are shocked by all of this, insisting he does not have a history of mental illness. He will be back in court in February.
As for Closs, she has been returned to her surviving family members. Her aunt Jennifer Smith shared a photo of the girl’s reunion with her dog Molly (see above). In the wake of this harrowing trauma, the 13-year-old has a long road of recovery ahead of her. But what might be an aid, some are saying she deserves a reward, specifically the one put out in hopes of finding her.
The FBI offered $25,000 reward for information that would lead to her recovery. And that was matched by The Jennie-O Turkey company, which is where her late parents were employed. Together, that’s a $50k reward. USA Today reports Nutter and her neighbors Peter and Kristin Kasinskas, who called 911, want it to go to Closs. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald has lent support to this idea, telling ABC News, “Jayme is a hero in this case, no question about it. She’s the one that helped us break the case.”
And Twitter has her back. Here are some of the replies to the ABC News tweet. There are hundreds echoing this sentiment.
For now, the matter of who (if anyone) will receive the $50k reward is under review. Regardless of how that matter turns out, our hearts go out to Jayme Closs and her family in this time of hurt and healing.
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