The search is over: 13-year-old Jayme Closs found safe, connection to suspect still a mystery

21-year-old man expected to face charges

Jayme Closs went missing from her Wisconsin home on Monday Oct. 15, 2018.
Jayme Closs went missing from her Wisconsin home on Monday Oct. 15, 2018.

BARRON, Wis. – After three months of searching, 13-year-old Jayme Closs was found safe. She went missing in the wake of a shooting that took the lives of her parents in their Wisconsin home.

Police called to home, investigation launched

The Barron County Sheriff's Department was called to the home at 1 a.m. on Oct. 15 after they said a 911 call was made from a cellphone inside the home. Police said no one spoke during the call, but the dispatcher heard yelling in the background. When the dispatcher called the number back, the call went to Denise Closs' voicemail.

When police arrived they discovered Jayme's parents had been killed in what they called a "violent crime scene." James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, were killed. At the time, police would not say much more about the crime scene, and only clarified that the weapon used was a gun.

Police initially believed the door had been kicked in, but clarified during a press briefing Friday that they now believe the suspect -- now identified as Jake Thomas Patterson -- used a shotgun to forcibly enter the home.

Police launched a search for Jayme, who was not at the scene of the crime when they arrived. She was never listed as a suspect.

Tuesday - Oct. 16

By Tuesday, Oct. 16, the sheriff's department had held a press conference and shared the live video on Facebook. They requested tips in the case and announced that the FBI was assisting them.

Ed Downing Sr., who is married to the sister of one of Jayme's grandmothers, spoke to NBC News and said the family was in "disbelief" over the deaths and the teen's disappearance.

"It was just unbelievable, unbelievable. How can this be happening to us? To a small community like that, you know. It's unreal," NBC News reported he said.


Wednesday - Oct. 17

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald hosted a local town hall for Barron County residents only. Media was not allowed access.

"This is to offer me the opportunity to connect with the citizens of Barron County, and have a private dialogue about how our community is doing. We will have victim assistance personnel available to address wellness concerns," the Sheriff's Department posted on its Facebook page.

The search for Jayme Closs "has continued to intensify," according to officials.

Thursday - Oct. 18

Officials requested the public's help in conducting a "routine search for evidence." They asked for 100 volunteers to assist in the search. The volunteers were used to sweep the area surrounding the Closs home, searching for evidence.

Man burglarizes Closs home

By the end of October police had received over 2,000 tips and closed over 1,875 of them in the search for Jayme.

The reward for information leading to the whereabouts of the girl doubled to $50,000. Police said the Jennie-O Turkey Store, where Jayme's parents worked, helped raise money to increase the reward from the initial $25,000 offered by the FBI.

Saturday - Oct. 27

Kyle Jaenke, 32, was arrested for burglary at the Closs home. He was quickly cleared of any involvement in Jayme's disappearance and was charged with burglary and bail jumping.

READMan charged with burglarizing home of missing Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs

The Barron County Sheriff's Department continued to share updates on its Facebook page.

Jayme Closs found safe

After nearly three months, a community heard the phrase they had been hoping for. Jayme Closs was found and she was safe.

Thursday night the Douglass County Sheriff's Department in Wisconsin notified the Barron County Sheriff's Department that they had located Jayme and she was alive. She had been found in Gordon, Wisconsin, a town about 66 miles north of where Jayme was last seen, according to officials.

READJayme Closs turns up 'like a ghost' on a Wisconsin street 70 miles from where her parents were shot

Update from Barron County Sheriff's Office:

"Jayme Closs has been located

On Thursday evening the Barron County Sheriff’s Department was notified by the Douglas CO WI Sheriff’s Department that they had located Jayme Closs alive.

Shortly after this a suspect was taken into custody in regards to this case. We do not any other details at this time as this is a very fluid and active investigation. We will not be answering any questions or taking calls on this tonight.

We are planning a press briefing approximately 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Sheriff’s Department in Barron. We are receiving support from the FBI and WI DCI agents as this investigation continues.

We want to thank the Douglas Co Sheriff’s Department and agencies assisting them tonight. We also want to thank all the Law Enforcement agencies across the state and county that have assisted us in this case. We also could not have endured this case without the support of the public and I want to thank them for all the support and help.

Finally we want to especially thank the family for their support and patience while this case was ongoing. We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!

This case has been very trying on the family so please respect their privacy and we reunite them later tonight."

LISTEN: Jayme Closs' aunt's emotional reaction. (Audio below)

Jake Thomas Patterson
Jake Thomas Patterson

LIVE STREAM: Police update after Jayme Closs found alive in Wisconsin http://bit.ly/2QDX1vF

Posted by WDIV Local 4 / ClickOnDetroit on Friday, January 11, 2019

How Jayme was found

Police believe Jayme escaped from the home of her kidnapper while Patterson was away from the residence. A woman was out walking her dog when Jayme ran up to her and allegedly said, "I'm lost, and I don't know where I am, I need help."

Jeanne Nutter told WCCO that Jayme was not wearing a coat or gloves, and "when she told me who she was, I figured she must have left in a hurry."

"I just held onto her, and I said we're going to find somebody who's home, we're going to call the police," Nutter said. "You're going to be OK. You're going to be safe."

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald : Jayme doing as well as circumstances allow

Friday at 5 p.m. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald updated the public regarding Jayme and the investigation.

Fitzgerald said that Jayme was reunited with her aunt at the hospital Friday afternoon, and is expected to see the rest of her family Friday evening. He said that Jayme is doing as well as circumstances allow.

Fitzgerald also shared some facts regarding the case.

  • Gun recovered at scene that they believe was used at the Closs home in October. They are waiting on tests to confirm that information.
  • Shotgun was used the night Jayme's parents were killed. The same shotgun was used to shoot open the door at the Closs home.

Fitzgerald also said Patterson, the man accused of kidnapping Jayme, was not at the home when Jayme escaped. Police will not say how Jayme escaped, or if she was being restrained in the home. The conditions of the home have also not been released, but police did say the home was in a rural setting.

Police believe Patterson was out searching for Jayme when he was taken into custody.

  • Police do not believe Patterson used social media to stalk Jayme. They are working to determine how the suspect became aware of Jayme and are not ready to release the information they do have.

Jayme's condition was also kept vague. Fitzgerald did say she was able to communicate with investigators and has been released from the hospital.

Jayme had been missing from her home for 88 days before she was found safe.

The FBI is searching the home of the suspect and investigators do not know if there was anyone in the house other than Jayme and the suspect.

"This case, from day one, has concerned me," Fitzgerald said.

Police are currently not looking for a second suspect.

The investigative team is, however, asking questions to see if anyone helped the suspect by getting him groceries or running errands for him.

Fitzgerald said he believes there was running water and working electricity at the home. They are continuing to search for any connections the suspect might have to Barron County.

Fitzgerald said he doesn't plan on holding any further press briefings, but that a criminal report should be available Monday.

Suspect in custody

The 21-year-old man is in jail and facing charges in connection with the slaying of Jayme's parents and the girl's disappearance.

Patterson was taken into custody not long after Jayme was found. Multiple weapons were recovered at the residence where police say he kept Jayme.


Police said a specific shotgun that they recovered appears to be the weapon used to enter the Closs home and kill Jayme's parents. Police are waiting on tests to confirm that information.

Not much information is available about Patterson.

Patterson was unemployed.

Police did say they believe Patterson went to great lengths to kidnap Jayme. They believe he shaved his head in order to not leave any trace evidence at the crime scene.

Fitzgerald said Patterson worked at the same Jennie-O-Turkey plant where Jayme's parents worked, but they do not believe Patterson would have had contact with the couple. Patterson worked at the plant over three years ago for less than two days, according to officials.

Police do not believe Patterson had contact with Jayme's parents or Jayme herself at any point before the alleged crimes.

Patterson went to high school in the area where Jayme was located. Police do not know who owned the home where Jayme was held. They are not sure how Patterson hid the alleged crimes from his friends and family.

READWhat we know about the suspect in the kidnapping of Jayme Closs

Patterson to be charged

Patterson is expected in court for an arraignment and formal charges on Monday at 3:30 p.m.

He will be charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping.

Elizabeth Smart: "What a miracle!!!"

Elizabeth Smart commented on social media and said that it's a "miracle" that 13-year-old Jayme was found safe.

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

Smart says "whatever other details may surface, the most important will still remain that she is alive."

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