Jayme Closs’ kidnapper Jake Patterson, 21. Picture: AP.
Jayme Closs’ kidnapper Jake Patterson, 21. Picture: AP.

Teen tells of survival: ‘I was smarter’ than killer

A YOUNG girl who was abducted by a man who held her hostage for three months in a remote cabin after he murdered her parents in their family home has revealed how she outsmarted her captor.

Jayme Closs, 13, was kidnapped and imprisoned by Jake Patterson, 21, for 88 days until she escaped on January 10 this year. Patterson earlier pleaded guilty to kidnapping Jayme and killing her parents in Barron, Wisconsin on October 15.

Attorney Chris Gramstrup today delivered a victim impact statement on behalf of his client Jayme at Patterson's sentencing at the Barron County Circuit Court.

In her statement, the teen said she had ultimately outsmarted Patterson.

"He thought he could own me but he was wrong," she said.

"I was smarter. I watched his routine and I took back my freedom.

'He thought he could control me but he couldn't."

Jayme wrote that Patterson "thought he could make (her) like him but he was wrong".

"For 88 days he tried to steal me and he didn't care who he hurt or who he locked up to do that," she continued.

The sentencing continues with Patterson facing two life sentences. Five of Jayme's family members, including uncles and aunts, have delivered victim impact statements in court today and called for Patterson to be given the maximum penalty sentence. Wisconsin doesn't have the death penalty.

In a brief statement to the court during his sentening, Patterson said he "would do absolutely anything to take back what I did".

"I would die to bring them back, I don't care about me, I'm just so sorry," he said.

The home where teenager Jayme Closs lived with her parents pictured in January this year. Picture: AP/Jeff Baenen.
The home where teenager Jayme Closs lived with her parents pictured in January this year. Picture: AP/Jeff Baenen.


 

Jayme Closs was honoured as a “hometown hero” in Wisconsin last week.
Jayme Closs was honoured as a “hometown hero” in Wisconsin last week.

 

 

NIGHT OF TERROR

It couldn't have happened in a more unlikely setting.

A modest, two-storey house with a side deck, and a manicured lawn: the scene of bloodshed and sheer horror just a few months ago.

The Closs family's former home is nestled among leafy surrounds a few metres off the US 8 highway in the tiny town of Barron, in the midwest state of Wisconsin, US. It's the type of place where American flags blow in the breeze outside homes and barns with high ceilings sit on open fields.

"Welcome to Barron, population 3423," a sign just a few metres up the road from the house reads.

It's also where 13-year-old Jayme Closs lived a happy - albeit ordinary - life with her parents James, 56 and Denise, 46 until a man pulled up in their driveway armed with a shotgun and blasted his way into the home, just after midnight on October 15 last year.

Jake Patterson, 21, didn't know the Closs family. But he was there to execute a carefully crafted plan to murder Jayme's parents so he could abduct the teen.

Unbeknown to the family at the time, he had visited their home twice after having watched Jayme board a school bus while he was on the way to work at a cheese factory weeks earlier. It was in that moment he decided "she was the girl I was going to take", according to a criminal complaint. On the first two occasions, he was scared off by lights and movement from within the house. But on his third visit in the early hours of a dark but clear Monday morning, he set his plans into motion. He dressed himself in black clothing, and drove his car - which he had earlier fitted with stolen license plates - up the Closs' driveway while holding his father's shotgun. The Closs family dog started barking and woke Jayme. She noticed the car outside and alerted her parents. As her father approached the front door, Patterson opened fire on him through a glass panel, fatally shooting him in the head, before charging into the home. Jayme and her mother sought refuge in the bathroom. They were huddled in the bath together with the shower curtain pulled shut when Patterson burst in. Denise told him she had called 911 and that police were on the way. Patterson ordered her to tape her daughter's mouth shut then executed her at point blank range in front of her only child. He then bound and gagged Jayme, before dragging her through her father's blood and bundling her into the boot of his car. As they sped away, she could hear police sirens blaring while authorities raced towards her house.

When officers arrived at the property just four minutes later, they found the slain bodies of Denise and James at the front door and in the bathroom, respectively. But there was no sign of Jayme. At the time, authorities said it had happened so quickly it was as if the teen had vanished into thin air. Patterson later told police he shaved his head and face prior to the attack to avoid leaving forensic evidence.

 

'I'M JAYME CLOSS'

Patterson held Jayme captive for the next 88 days in a remote cabin, about 120kms away in his hometown of Gordon.

During Jayme's time in captivity, her abductor forced her to hide under a bed when he had friends over and barricaded her in with boxes, bins and weights, warning that if she moved, "bad things could happen to her". He sometimes left her there for as long as 12 hours without food, water or bathroom breaks. He also turned up the radio so visitors couldn't hear her, according to documents tendered to court. On one occasion, he hit the child with a window blind cleaner.

Meanwhile, hundreds of volunteers - a large proportion of Barron's 3400 residents among them - combed corn fields and woodland searching for Jayme as giant billboards on highways and trucks carried posters of her face.

But there were no clues to her whereabouts or who had taken her and killed her parents in cold blood.

That was until Patterson left the property for a few hours and Jayme saw an opportunity to escape. She crawled out from under the bed, put on a pair of her captor's trainers and made a run for it on January 10 this year. She then flagged down Jeanne Nutter, who was out walking a dog, and pleaded for help.

"I'm Jayme Closs," Ms Nutter, a child protection worker, recalled the girl saying. "I don't know where I am," she continued. "Please help, I want to go home."

Ms Nutter took Jayme to a nearby house and called police. Patterson was arrested in his car minutes later. He told authorities he had been out searching for Jayme when he was pulled over. He then told police "I did it" and confessed to the murders of Jayme's parents and her abduction.

The Closs family’s former home pictured this week.
The Closs family’s former home pictured this week.

 

Jake Patterson pleaded guilty to kidnapping Jayme Closs, 13 and shooting her parents dead after storming their family home in Barron, Wisconsin.
Jake Patterson pleaded guilty to kidnapping Jayme Closs, 13 and shooting her parents dead after storming their family home in Barron, Wisconsin.

'I DON'T THINK LIKE A SERIAL KILLER'

As part of a plea deal, he didn't face additional charges from Douglas County where he held Jayme prisoner. As a result, most of the details surrounding what happened to her in that time, have not been heard in court. At the plea hearing, Patterson uttered "Bye Jayme" as he was led away by court officials even though she wasn't in attendance.

He later explained his decision to refuse his right to a trial by jury or judge in a bizarre letter sent to a Minneapolis TV station in which he stated he didn't want the Closs family "to worry about a trial".

"I can't believe I did this," he wrote.

"The cops say I planned this thoroughly, and that I said that … straight up lie. This was mostly on impulse.

"I don't think like a serial killer.

"At the time I was really pissed. I didn't 'want' to. The reason I did this is complicated."

Patterson grew up in the cabin where he held Jayme. He wrote in his high school yearbook of plans to join the Marines after graduation, but he was kicked out barely a month after joining up.

He struggled to hold down a job after that, working just a single day at a turkey plant in Barron in 2016 before quitting.

Jayme's parents worked at the same turkey plant, but there's nothing to indicate they knew Patterson.

The day Jayme escaped, Patterson had applied online for a job at a liquor store with a resume that misrepresented his experience.

 

Jake Patterson appears from jail via video at the Barron County Circuit Court on January 14, 2019 in Wisconsin. Picture: Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA.
Jake Patterson appears from jail via video at the Barron County Circuit Court on January 14, 2019 in Wisconsin. Picture: Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA.

 

 

In a rare public appearance last week, Jayme was honoured by state politicians as a "hometown hero". The teen appeared with family members and friends to accept the award in the Assembly chamber. Her aunt, Jen Smith, accepted the award on her niece's behalf. She said Jayme's bravery and spirit were inspiring. Jayme stood behind her aunt but didn't speak.

In February, Jayme and her family released a statement saying the support she has received from everyone had "been a source of great comfort to her".

 

Jayme Closs was honoured as a “hero” last week.
Jayme Closs was honoured as a “hero” last week.

 

 

megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin

 

Jayme Closs pictured last week. Picture: FBI.
Jayme Closs pictured last week. Picture: FBI.