Jayme Closs: Man, 21, named in kidnapping and murder case

Media captionMissing girl praised for ‘courageous’ escape

Wisconsin police have charged a 21-year-old man with murdering a 13-year-old girl’s parents last October so he could abduct her.

Jake Thomas Patterson was arrested on two counts of first-degree homicide and one count of kidnapping, police said on Friday.

Jayme Closs was found alive by the suspect’s neighbours on Thursday.

She had escaped on foot from a remote cabin where she had been held against her will after her parent’s murder.

Jayme will soon be reunited with her family, said officials during a news conference on Friday.

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AFP

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Police say the suspect took steps to conceal his identity

They described the 13-year-old as the suspect’s “only target” and said Jayme was “taken against her will”.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Mr Patterson has no criminal history in the state of Wisconsin.

Investigators say he took “many proactive steps” to hide his identity from law enforcement and the public.

Media captionAunt tearfully reacts to missing Wisconsin girl found safe

Officials did not expand on why Jayme was targeted.

Sheriff Fitzgerald said Jayme had not connected with Mr Patterson on social media, and the suspect had had no contact with anyone else in the family.

He said the unemployed suspect had ties to the Barron area, but did not elaborate.

Sheriff Fitzgerald noted police information was “limited” and Jayme is still being interviewed, but she has been medically cleared and released from hospital.

“There is a reunification process in place going on right now that includes medical mental evaluation, questioning by detectives and FBI agents, and then reunification with family,” he said.

“It’s amazing – the will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape.”

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EPA

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Sheriff Fitzgerald said Jayme had been taken against her will and held captive

Jayme was found on Thursday in the small town of Gordon, some 70 miles (112km) from her home in Barron.

According to Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec, Gordon police pinpointed and arrested Mr Patterson 11 minutes later thanks to a description of his vehicle that Jayme provided.

Mr Patterson was interviewed by Douglas County officials and then transported to the Barron County jail.

FBI Special Agent Justin Tolomeo told reporters: “In cases like this we often need a big break – it was Jayme herself who gave us that break.”

Barron County District Attorney Brian Right said he plans to have a criminal complaint against Mr Patterson filed by next week.

Local teacher Jeanne Nutter was walking her dog when she found Jayme on Thursday.

She told the Associated Press that the 13-year-old had shouted “please help me, I don’t know where I am, I’m lost”.

Ms Nutter said Jayme was skinny, dirty and wearing shoes too large for her feet.

She brought Jayme to the home of neighbours Kristin and Peter Kasinskas, as it was farther away from where she found the teenager.

“It was like I was seeing a ghost,” Mr Kasinskas told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “My jaw just went to the floor.”

Mr Patterson lived just a few houses away from the Kasinskas family, and Mrs Kasinskas had been one of his school teachers, the Associated Press reported.

Mrs Kasinskas told the Press she had not seen him on their street or in town since high school, describing him as “a quiet kid”.

“I don’t recall anything that would have explained this, by any means,” she added.

Jayme reportedly stayed at the home for about 20 minutes, declining food and water.

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AFP/Getty Images

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A police car blocks the road where Jayme was found on January 11 in Gordon, Wisconsin

Jayme’s aunt, Sue Allard, told the Star Tribune: “It’s the news we’ve been waiting on for three months.

“I can’t wait to get my arms around her. I just can’t wait.”

Her uncle, Jeff Closs, told KARE News the family had “thought it was going to be a different ending”.

“We don’t really know what shape she’s in,” he added. “We don’t really know a lot, all we know is just she’s alive.”

The area where Jayme was eventually found is a remote community with around 30 homes near the Eau Claire River, the Star Tribune reported.

The town of Gordon itself has under 750 residents, according to census data.

During the intense, nationwide investigation for Jayme, officials from the FBI, state patrol and local law enforcement received thousands of tips.

A survivor of one of America’s most infamous kidnaps on Friday welcomed the news of Jayme’s escape.

Elizabeth Smart – who was abducted aged 14 in 2002 in Utah and held captive for nine months – said in an Instagram post: “No matter what may unfold in her story let’s all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED.”

Jayme Closs went missing on Monday 15 October 2018, after emergency services received a mobile phone call from her family address in Barron.

911 dispatchers heard a disturbance in the background, but no-one spoke to them directly.

When police arrived at the home four minutes later, they found the parents, James and Denise Closs, shot dead.

There was no sign of Jayme, nor of a suspect or murder weapon.

The Closses’ deaths were ruled as homicide by a medical examiner.

Jayme Closs: Man, 21, named in kidnapping and murder case

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