Sheriff: Kidnapper made ‘great efforts’ to abduct Jayme Closs, avoid leaving evidence

Authorities in Wisconsin say they believe the man suspected of abducting 13-year-old Jayme Closs was out looking for her when he was arrested.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Friday that 21-year-old Jake Patterson wasn’t at home when Jayme escaped Thursday afternoon.

Deputies arrested Patterson in his vehicle soon after Jayme escaped and turned up on a neighbor’s doorstep near Gordon.

Fitzgerald said Patterson made “great efforts” to avoid leaving any evidence during the shooting and kidnapping at Jayme’s Barron home on Oct. 15. He said Patterson changed his physical appearance before the attack, including shaving his head to avoid leaving any hair behind. He said investigators believe Patterson killed Jayme’s parents to abduct her.

Authorities have recovered a gun they say is consistent with what was used at the scene of the homicide of her parents.


–suspect was not home when #JaymeCloss escaped
–believe he was out looking for her when law enforcement found him
–will be in court Monday at 3:30p#news3

— Jessica Arp (@news3jessica) January 11, 2019

Fitzgerald said investigators have no evidence that Patterson knew anyone at the Closs home or had contact with anyone there.

“Jayme is the hero in this case, there’s no question about it,” Fitzgerald said. “She’s the one who helped us break this case.”

@bcsheriff says “Jayme is the hero in this case, there’s no question about it. She’s the one who helped us break this case” #news3 #findjayme

— Tabatha (@TabathaWethal) January 11, 2019

Patterson is also suspected of killing Jayme’s parents, James and Denise, in the October attack at the family’s home near Barron, which is about 60 miles south of Gordon.

Fitzgerald said investigators don’t believe there was any social media connection between Patterson and Jayme. He says investigators are trying to determine how he “became aware” of the girl.

Jayme was reunited with her aunt and is expected to meet with the rest of her family Friday night.

“She is doing as well as circumstances allow,” Fitzgerald said. “Right now we are going to let her settle in and reconnect with her loved ones.”

Patterson will have an initial appearance in Barron County court at 3:30 p.m. Monday, court officials said. He’s facing tentative charges of kidnapping and two counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

Cabin where Jayme was kept changed ownership days after abduction

Ownership of a remote cabin where a Wisconsin teenager was apparently held during a nearly 3-month disappearance passed to a credit union soon after the girl’s abduction.

Records show that Patterson’s father transferred the title of the cabin near Gordon to Superior Choice Credit Union on Oct. 23, eight days after the Oct. 15 attack. The cabin was appraised at $79,300.

The circumstances of the transfer weren’t clear. The credit union didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment Friday and The Associated Press couldn’t find a working phone listing for Patterson’s father, Patrick Patterson.

Elizabeth Smart: Teen’s escape shows why we can’t give up

Elizabeth Smart says that finding Jayme is “why we can never give up hope on any missing child.”

Smart was 14 when she was abducted from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. She was rescued nine months later.

Smart told The Associated Press by phone Friday that she would expect that Jayme will have to confront the fact that there “is no going back to the way things were.”

Smart also recommended that Jayme’s friends and family give her space and allow her to make her own decisions.

Watch Fitzgerald’s news conference from Friday afternoon:

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