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Crime News Breaking News

Who Is Jake Patterson, The Man Accused Of Kidnapping Jayme Closs?

Law enforcement said he went to great lengths to stay under the radar, even shaving his head so he wouldn't leave behind any hair at the scene of the abduction.

By Gina Tron

Not a whole lot is known yet about the man suspected of killing a Wisconsin couple, kidnapping their teenage daughter and holding the girl against her will for nearly three months in a cabin. What happened during that time also remains a mystery.

More details about the ordeal could come soon as prosecutors are expected to formally charge 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson with two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs before his Monday afternoon court hearing in Barron County Circuit Court.

Patterson allegedly broke into James and Denise Closs' home near Barron on Oct. 15 by blowing the front door open with a shotgun blast. Investigators allege he fatally shot the couple and abducted Jayme, who managed to escape her captor Thursday in a rural, heavily wooded area in northwest Wisconsin and seek help from neighbors.

Authorities have said Patterson's goal was to kidnap Jayme, but it's unclear how he became aware of the girl, especially because he lived an hour away.

So what is known about the suspect?

He grew up in a rural area

Patterson grew up in Gordon, a sprawling township of 645 people tucked into the snowy evergreen forests about 35 miles south of Lake Superior. It’s wild country; roadside signs admonish motorists to share the pavement with ATVs.

The few neighbors who know Patterson’s family say he grew up in a cabin in a remote development that’s a mix of seasonal and year-round homes about 10 miles outside Gordon proper.

As a child, he was bright but unremarkable

Patterson’s neighbor Kristin Kasiskas called 911 after another neighbor brought the teen to Kasiskas and her husband’s home. Her husband then grabbed a gun in case Patterson showed up. Kasiskas, who teaches teaches middle and high school science, told Fox News she remembers Patterson from when he was in middle school.

“He didn’t say a whole lot and never really stood out a whole lot to me because he wasn’t super engaging,” Kasinskas said, adding that he was shy and bright back then. She also said he had a small group of friends.

Patterson’s high school teachers also barely remember the man who graduated only three years ago, and say, just like Kasinskas, that they didn’t realize he still lived in the area.

Northwood School superintendent Jean Serum told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Patterson “was a good student" and a member of the school quiz bowl team who graduated in May 2015. He did not participate in any sports.

He didn’t have a job

At a Friday press conference, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said that Patterson was unemployed.

He tried to fly under the radar

Fitzgerald said that Patterson had no criminal record.

"Jake Patterson had zero criminal history locally and zero criminal history in the state of Wisconsin," he said at Friday’s press conference.

Patterson also didn’t appear to have much of a digital footprint either. In fact, he allegedly too proactive steps to hide from law enforcement, including scrubbing his social media presence and shaving his head so that he wouldn’t leave hair follicles at the crime scene.

He took “great efforts to minimize his forensic footprint at the crime scene," Patterson. "The suspect had specific intentions to kidnap Jayme, and went to great lengths to prepare to take her.”

His cabin home was full of trash

The secluded property where Patterson allegedly held Closs was reportedly full of cars and trash, according to the New York Post. Amongst the garbage, multiple half-empty milk containers, many of which were expired. There were also empty containers of alcoholic beverages including Cranberry Smirnoff Ice and Grape Henry’s Hard Soda, according to the report, which also noted there were female adult diapers found on the premise.

A book entitled “U.S. Armed Forces Survival Guide” was found on a table.

He doesn’t have an obvious connection to Closs’ family

On Friday, Fitzgerald revealed 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. It’s not clear how Patterson came to find Closs and target her.

He and his brother were reportedly troubled

Patterson’s parents divorced in 2008, according to online court records. Neighbor Daphne Ronning told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the parents moved away but that Patterson and his older brother, Erik, continued to stay in the cabin. She said she and her husband once caught them siphoning gas. Another neighbor, Patricia Osborne, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the brothers often got into trouble. She said they stole things and spent time in foster care.

His brother has had multiple run-ins with the law, including convictions for marijuana possession, bail jumping and sexual assault, online court records show.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

[Photo: Barron County Sheriff’s Department]