A 21-year-old man has been arrested for kidnapping Jayme Closs after the teen managed to escape and find help. Closs, abducted on the night her parents were killed, was held captive for three months.
“Jayme was taken against her will and taken to a residence where she was held,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told reporters Friday. “The subject planned his actions and took many proactive steps to hide his identity.”
Closs, 13, disappeared on the night her parents were murdered in their home in Barron, Wisconsin on October 15. She was found in Gordon, 66 miles from her home.
“We also do not believe at this time that the suspect had any contact with the family. We do believe Jayme was the only target,” Fitzgerald said. The suspect, Jake Thomas Patterson, “had zero criminal history locally and zero criminal history in Wisconsin.”
“My agency received a 911 call about 4:30 yesterday afternoon from an individual who was out walking her dog said she was approached by a young female claiming to be Jayme Closs,” Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec told reporters.
As soon as Closs was safe with authorities, patrol deputies found a vehicle matching the description the young teen supplied. After pulling it over and questioning the driver, authorities arrested him and placed him in custody in Barron County, where he was charged with first-degree homicide and one count of kidnapping.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Closs appears to have been kept in the home where Patterson himself grew up. Neighbors said his parents moved away a few years ago but that he and his brother continued to use the house.
The case “remains active and fluid,” authorities said.
Fitzgerald thanked all of those involved in searching for the missing girl, saying that law enforcement agencies “never gave up hope” of finding her.
The sheriff also paid tribute to the teen herself for escaping her captor single-handedly, saying it was down to “the will of a kid to survive.”
Closs was taken to a hospital where she was treated and held overnight for observation.
Special Agent R Justin Tolomeo of the Milwaukee FBI said “it is an incredible day,” and spoke about how challenging the case was “given the steps the suspect took” to hide both himself and Closs.
“Today we can finally say, Jayme Closs is home.”
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