Missing Persons

Jayme Closs Was Targeted By Suspect, Authorities Say As They Give New Details On Her Abduction And Miraculous Escape

Law enforcement believe Jake Thomas Patterson gunned down Jayme Closs' parents so he could kidnap her, but it doesn't appear he had any prior connection to the teen.

The 21-year-old man arrested for kidnapping Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs in October targeted her and killed her parents in order to abduct her, according to police.

Closs has been missing since Oct. 15 when someone broke into her family's home outside Barron and fatally shot her parents, James and Denise Closs. On Thursday, after nearly three months of seemingly futile searching, Closs managed to escape her captor and seek help. 

“It’s amazing that will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said at a Friday morning press conference.

Jake Thomas Patterson is now in custody in connection with Closs' abduction and the murder of her parents. Authorities say she was present in the home when her parents were gunned down. 

Fitzgerald revealed that Closs was Patterson’s target, not her parents, though he didn't provide further details. He noted that it doesn’t appear Patterson and Closs had any prior relationship or possibly even contact. He said that it doesn’t appear that they met online, either.

Authorities are not looking for any additional suspects.

Closs was kept in a "home in a remote area" of Douglas County, Wisconsin, Fitzgerald stated - about an hour away from where she was taken. He said he’s not sure at this time if there were any additional locations where the teen was held.

"There isn't a lot of houses in that area," he said. He said Patterson kept her hidden during her time at the home.

"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," he said.

Fitzgerald didn't offer any details on what happened to Closs during the months of her captivity. He said detectives are speaking with her and that she'll be reunited with her relatives when they're done. He said her relatives hugged and cried when told Thursday that she was found alive.

After Closs escaped the home, she found a woman walking her dog and they knocked on a neighbor's door asking for help. 

"This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!" the woman shouted.

Closs described Patterson's vehicle to law enforcement and he was pulled over and arrested.

He is currently being held on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for the murder of Closs's parents and one count of kidnapping.

He has been described as unemployed and has no criminal record.

Barron Area School District Superintendent Diane Tremblay called it a “glorious day.”

“Jayme has been found safe and has been reunited with her family and friends. There is truly nothing better than that.”

She said the last 88 days since Closs has been missing, she and the school district has held onto home that the teenager would be brought back safely.

“We want to thank Jayme for being so courageous and for finding an opportunity to come back to us,” she said. "What an extraordinary young lady."

She said there will be a celebration held for the safe return of Closs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

[Photo: FBI, Barron County Sheriff’s Department]

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