The Barron County Sheriff's Department has reported that missing Wisconsin 13-year-old Jayme Closs has been found alive, after escaping a home in a remote area where she was being held captive.
Jake Thomas Patterson, a 21-year-old from Gordon, was arrested and charged with two counts of first degree homicide in the murder of Closs' parents and one count of kidnapping. Authorities said Friday that Patterson planned his actions and went to extraordinary lengths to conceal his identity, including shaving his head so as not to leave behind trace evidence.
Authorities said they believe Closs, not her parents, was the target. In a press conference, Sheriff Fitzgerald said there was no evidence Patterson had any prior connection, including any social media connection to any of the members of the Closs family. He also stated that they believe he was actively looking for Jayme following her escape, when he was apprehended by police on Thursday.
A shotgun consistent with the gun used to kill James and Denise Closs was recovered at Patterson's home and investigators are currently waiting for confirmation that it is the same weapon.
Patterson is due to appear in court in Barron on Monday at 3:30 to face two charges of first degree homicide and one charge of kidnapping.
This is 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson. Police have arrested him for killing Jayme Closs’ parents and kidnapping her. He has no criminal history, was not on law enforcements’ radar, is a Gordon, WI native, police say he’s been taking steps to hide. pic.twitter.com/GMMFLK62rC— Hannah Flood (@Hannah_nbc15) January 11, 2019
Closs has been missing since October 15, when her parents were found shot to death in their home. Police believe the teen was home at the time of the murders and was kidnapped.
Her disappearance set off a massive manhunt and joint investigation between Wisconsin investigators and the FBI. Earlier on Thursday the reward for information in her case had been increased to $50,000.
The Star Tribune reports that Closs was discovered in the town of Gordon, Wisconsin – just 70 miles from her family's home – when she approached a woman walking her dog at around 4:43 p.m. on Thursday and asked for help. The woman, who has asked not to be identified, recognized her immediately and then approached the nearest house, banging on the door for help. When Kristin Kasinkas opened her door, the woman shouted, "This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!"
As they waited for police to arrive, Closs — who was described as being skinny, dirty with matted hair, and wearing oversized shoes — played quietly with the Kasinkas' puppy and declined food and water.
"We do believe Jayme was the only target. I can tell you that the subject planned his actions, and took many proactive steps to hide his identity from law enforcement and the general public," Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said at a Friday morning press conference.
Over 2,000 volunteers joined the initial search effort and more than 3,500 tips poured in but in the end, it was Closs herself who provided police with the break in the case they needed.