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'We Take Life Day By Day': Jayme Closs' Family Says Teen Is ‘Doing Good’ Two Years After She Escaped Her Kidnapper

“She is enjoying dance, school activities and many other things. ... She is surrounded by lots of loved ones," Jayme Closs' aunt and guardian said of her recovery from 88 days in captivity.

By Jill Sederstrom
Jayme Closs Kidnapping Suspect Pleads Guilty to Charges

Two years after Wisconsin teenager Jayme Closs escaped the man who killed her parents and held her captive for months, her family says she’s “doing good” and is now “enjoying dance” and “school activities.”

“We take life day by day,” Closs’ aunt and guardian, Jennifer Naiberg Smith said in a statement on Facebook. “She is enjoying dance, school activities and many other things as much as is possible in regards to now dealing with the [C]ovid restrictions. She is surrounded by lots of loved ones.”

On Oct. 15, 2018, Jake Thomas Patterson broke into Closs' home near Barron, Wisconsin, and shot her parents to death with a 12-gauge shotgun before kidnapping the then-13-year-old.

Patterson, who was 21 at the time, had targeted Closs after spotting her at a bus stop and deciding that she “was the girl he was going to take,” according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com.

After shooting her father James Closs at the front door, he found Jayme and her mom hiding in a bathtub and tied up the teen before shooting her mother to death. Patterson then dragged Closs out to his car, put her in the trunk and took off before Barron County Sheriff’s Deputies were able to respond to a 911 call they received from the location.

He took Closs to a secluded cabin near Gordon, Wisconsin, where he held her captive for 88 days, forcing her to stay under a bed in the cabin.

But on Jan. 10, 2019, Closs was able to escape after Patterson departed the cabin for several hours.

Closs’ escape was aided by Jeanne Nutter, who spotted the frantic teen wandering around while out walking her dog. The pair went to the nearby home of Kristin and Peter Kasinskas, who called 911 and brought the teen’s horrific ordeal to a close.

Smith acknowledged the role all three played in rescuing the teen in her statement posted over the weekend.

“We are very thankful for everything that happened on this day two years ago; for Jayme’s bravery and for Jeanne, Peter and Kristen for all being in the right place, at the right time and keeping Jayme safe,” she said. “We’re still very thankful for the community, to the whole world for all caring and being there, and to law enforcement who worked tirelessly to seek justice.”

Patterson pleaded guilty to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. He was sentenced to life in prison in May 2019 after Closs delivered a powerful statement in which she asked that he be “locked up forever.”

“He thought he could own me but he was wrong. I was smarter,” Closs said in a statement delivered by her attorney. “I was brave and he was not. ... He thought he could make me like him, but he was wrong.”

Two years after the traumatizing kidnapping ended, Smith said Closs is doing well and moving on with her life.

“We always want to say and remind others never take life for granted,” she said. “You never know what tomorrow will bring. Always remember to take the time to tell your loved ones you love them.”

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