BARRON COUNTY -- Jake Patterson confessed to killing James and Denise Closs and kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs, according to a criminal complaint released Monday, Jan. 14 by the Barron County district attorney.
Patterson, 21, faces two counts of first degree intentional homicide (for the deaths of James and Denise Closs), one count of kidnapping and one count of armed burglary.
Prosecutors said Jake Patterson told investigators he drove to the Closs home twice with the intent to kidnap Jayme prior to Oct. 15, when the abduction occurred.
The complaint said that Patterson first spotted Jayme while on the way home from work when he was stopped behind a school bus, and watched Jayme get on the bus.
Patterson told police he had no idea who Jayme was, but "when he saw (Jayme), he knew that was the girl he was going to take."
The judge set $5 million cash bond as Patterson made his initial court appearance Monday via video feed from the Barron County Jail. A preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 6.
Oct. 15 murder of James and Denise Closs
According to the criminal complaint, a 911 call came in moments before 1 a.m. on Oct. 15 from the Closs residence. "Screaming could be heard in the background." First responders arrived in just minutes -- around 1 a.m.
A deputy en route noted a maroon, older vehicle "yield to himself and other deputies responding to the scene."
James Closs was found lying on the floor near the front door -- deceased -- with "significant trauma to his face and head" from an apparent gunshot wound. A spent 12-gauge shotgun shell was found near his body. Another was found in a hallway in front of the bathroom. A third was found outside.
Denise Closs was found "sitting unresponsive in the shower" -- deceased -- with "significant head trauma" due to a gunshot wound to the head. The complaint said there was evidence to suggest Denise Closs "attempted to barricade herself in the bathroom," and someone "kicked or breached" the door. A cellphone was found on the floor near the door.
James and Denise Closs were pronounced dead at the scene. Autopsies revealed both suffered fatal shotgun wounds.
No one else was found in the home.
Investigators determined the door had been "shot with a shotgun slug shell in the area of the deadbolt lock."
It was quickly determined 13-year-old Jayme Closs was missing, and an Amber Alert was issued.
Jayme Closs found alive
On Thursday, Jan. 10, after missing for 88 days, Jayme Closs was found alive about 70 miles from her Barron home in Gordon -- in rural northwestern Wisconsin.
Jayme was rescued while walking down a road in Gordon in frigid weather -- without a coat and gloves. She approached Jeanne Nutter, who was out walking her dog. Nutter took Jayme to the nearby home of Peter and Kristen Kasinskas. They learned that Jayme Closs "had stated a male suspect, who she identified as Jake Patterson, had killed her parents and she wants to go home."
Nutter told investigators around 3:30 p.m., she left for her walk, which took around 40 minutes. When she returned to her driveway, she said she saw a young girl who "begged for help," telling her "I don't know where I am. He killed my parents. Please help -- I want to go home." She estimated it was around 4:10 p.m. Nutter said she made the decision to go to the Kasinskas home because, though she didn't know Patterson, she recognized his name from a mailbox in the area, and knew his cabin was "only two driveways west." She said Jayme was "in shock, tired, with matted hair and messy clothes."
Investigators responded to the Kasinskas home around 4:45 p.m. on Jan. 10. Jayme was found wearing men's tennis shoes on the wrong feet. A decision was made " to remove Jayme from the area for her safety."
As a deputy drove with Jayme, a red vehicle approached, and the deputy "asked Jayme if that was Patterson's car, and Jayme said she didn't know." Other investigators were notified -- and the vehicle's plates were checked. It was learned the vehicle was registered to a female with the last name "Patterson." A deputy noted the lone occupant was a male -- and followed the vehicle, which passed the Gordon home where Jayme was allegedly held. A traffic stop was conducted, and the driver told the deputy "his name is Jake Patterson." As he stepped out of the vehicle, the complaint said Patterson told the deputy: "I did it."
Jayme Closs describes her abduction
According to the complaint, Jayme Closs told investigators on the morning of Oct. 15, her dog began barking, and she got up to investigate -- noticing there was someone in their driveway. She woke up her parents, and her father went to the door. Jayme said there was a man (later identified as Patterson) at the door with a gun. Jayme said she and her mother hid in the bathroom with the door closed. She said she heard a gunshot and "knew her father had just been killed." She said her mom used a cellphone to dial 911. Patterson then broke down the bathroom door and told Denise Closs to hang up. Jayme said Patterson told Denise Closs to "put tape over Jayme's mouth," which Denise did, and then Patterson shot Denise, according to Jayme.
Jayme described Patterson as "dressed in black from head to toe, including a face mask, hat and gloves.
According to the complaint, Jayme said Patterson "taped her hands and ankles together and dragged her to his vehicle-- where he placed her in the trunk. She said she heard sirens as Patterson began driving.
She estimated she was in the trunk for about two hours before they arrived at the Gordon cabin, which she said Patterson told her was "his house."
At the home, the complaint said Patterson removed the tape, and made her take off all of her clothing, making "a comment about not having evidence." She said he told her he was going to throw her clothes away.
Jayme's time in captivity
Jayme Closs told investigators at times, Patterson would have friends/relatives over, and "Patterson made it clear that nobody was to know she was there, or bad things would happen to her," the complaint said.
She said Patterson "made her hide under his bed in his bedroom," stacking totes and laundry bins around the bed with weights stacked against them so she could not move them without his being able to detect it. She said at one point, she accidentally moved one of the totes when she was told to hide under the bed, and "Patterson told her something bad would happen if she did it again." She said Patterson "would turn music on in his room so she couldn't hear what as happening if there was anyone else in the house with him."
She was also forced to stay under the bed when Patterson left the house, the complaint said. She said she was forced to do this for up to 12 hours at a time with no food, water or bathroom breaks.
She described one occasion when Patterson "got mad at her and hit her really hard with what she described as a handle for something used to clean blinds, and that it hurt really bad." She said Patterson told her "if it happened again, the punishment would be worse next time."
Jayme escapes the cabin in Gordon
The complaint said on Jan. 10, Patterson left the house and told her he was going to be gone "for five or six hours," and made her go under the bed before he left. Closs said when he left, she was able to push the bins and weights away from the bed, and crawl out. She said she put on a pair of Patterson's shoes and walked out of the house -- walking toward Jeanne Nutter, who she saw walking her dog.
Nutter took her to the neighbor's house and they called 911.
Interview with Jake Patterson
The complaint said Jake Patterson confessed to killing James and Denise Closs, and kidnapping Jayme Closs. He said one day on the way home from work at the Saputo Cheese Factory in Almena, he "stopped behind a school bus on Highway 8, where he watched (Jayme Closs) get on a school bus." He said he "had no idea who she was, nor did he know who lived at the house." He said when he saw Jayme, "he knew that was the girl he was going to take."
He admitted to purchasing a mask as part of his plan "to conceal his identity when he took (Jayme)."
He told investigators he drove to the Closs home twice with the intent to kidnap Jayme prior to Oct. 15, when the abduction occurred. He said on one occasion, "there were all kinds of cars in the driveway and it scared him off." On another night, "the lights were on in the house and people were walking around in the house, so he decided not to do it then."
He said he "put quite a bit of thought into the details of how he was going to abduct" Jayme. He said he stole license plates from a vehicle "because he did not want to get stopped or spotted with his own license plates." He described other modifications to his vehicle, including replacing the dome light so it wouldn't illuminate his presence inside, and removing the trunk light and the "kidnapping cord" so no one could pull the trunk release from inside.
According to the complaint, he said he took his father's 12-gauge shotgun because "he assumed it would be more difficult to trace," and he "felt it would inflict the most damage." He said he wiped down the shotgun shells and cleaned and wiped down the shotgun "so there would be no fingerprints or DNA on either of them." He said he shaved his head and face "so that he would not leave any DNA or hair at the scene."
He said as he neared the Closs home on Oct. 15, he shut off his headlights and "coasted into the driveway." He said as he approached the house, he saw James Closs standing in the front picture window. He said he "hollered for James to get on the ground, but James kept shining a flashlight and looking outside." He said at the door, he "raised the shotgun and aimed at James' head," pulling the trigger. He said he then fired at the door.
According to the complaint, he said he stepped into the home and across James' body, and he "knew James was dead."
Patterson told investigators he checked the home for other people, and noticed the closed bathroom door. He estimated it took "10 to 15 hits with his shoulder" before the door opened. He said he ripped off the shower curtain rod and threw it to the floor. Denise and Jayme were in the bathtub, with Denise's arms wrapped around her daughter.
Patterson then told Denise to place duct tape on her daughter. The complaint said Patterson removed Jayme from the bathtub, and "pulled the trigger" at Denise's head "because he knew that head shots were the best way to kill a person."
The complaint said Patterson told investigators he then began dragging Jayme to his vehicle -- placing her in the trunk and locking it shut. He admitted to yielding to three passing squads headed toward the house, telling investigators "he was determined he was going to take (Jayme) that night and was going to kill anyone in the house because he could not leave any eyewitnesses behind." When asked what he would have done if stopped, he told investigators "he most likely would have shot at police."
He admitted to "creating a space under his bed" for Jayme "so he would know if she tried to get out, since the weights would be removed" from the totes stacked around the bed.
He said there were two occasions when he thought Jayme Closs had tried to get out from under the bed, and "he had struck a wall and screamed a lot, to the point where he knew she was scared and she knew that she better not try that again." He said Jayme was "fearful enough of him that she knew that she was not to leave the bedroom without him." When he would leave, he told her "she better not leave" or "bad things would happen to her." He said "because of his anger and outbursts" Jayme complied and did as she was told.
Around Christmas, the complaint said Patterson went to Superior to visit a grandparent. He estimated he was gone for 12 hours, and told Jayme "if she needed to go to the bathroom she had to hold it." He indicated his father would come to the house, and "he would make (Jayme) go under the bed, turning up the radio in his room "to cover up any noise (Jayme) might make."
He advised he initially kept a loaded shotgun outside his room "in case the police came." Eventually he emptied the shotgun and moved it to a broken down vehicle in the yard.
Patterson's response to Jayme's escape
According to the complaint, on Jan. 10, he told Jayme he was leaving for a few hours, and said he went to Haugen. When he got home, he discovered Jayme wasn't under the bed, and "saw her footprints outside." He said he got into his car and started driving around -- looking for her. He said after a few minutes, he returned to his house and was met by police. He said he then "knew he'd been caught."
He said he "basically assumed he had gotten away with killing James and Denise and kidnapping Jayme since he hadn't been caught for the first two weeks." He said he had never met Jayme through social media, and "only learned her name after the abduction." He said he learned the names of James and Denise Closs through "multiple news reports."
The complaint said he indicated "he never would have been caught if he would have planned everything perfectly."
A search warrant was executed at the Gordon home on Jan.11, and the stolen license plate, clothing allegedly worn by Patterson and the shotgun were recovered among 89 pieces of evidence.
Patterson made his initial appearance in court on Monday, Jan. 14. Cash bond was set at $5 million.
Jake Patterson's background
Patterson, who has no criminal history in Wisconsin, was described by people who knew him as a quiet and good student who participated in quiz bowl in high school. He wrote in his high school yearbook of wanting to join the Marines. On Monday, a spokeswoman for the Marines said Patterson lasted just a little more than month in the corps before washing out in October 2015.
His defense attorneys, Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, said they believe Patterson can get a fair trial, but they are not sure where.
"It's been an emotional time for this community and a difficult time for this community. We don't take that lightly. But we have a job to do in protecting our client," Jones said.
Patterson's relatives, including his father, Patrick, declined to comment after the initial court hearing.
Authorities have not said whether Jayme was sexually assaulted. The complaint does not charge Patterson with any form of sexual assault. The narrative in the document does not say what Patterson did with her.
Prosecutors said they expect to release more information on the case before Patterson's next hearing on Feb. 6 and that additional charges could be brought in the county where Jayme was held -- Douglas County.
Accounts have been established to help Jayme Closs and her family through this ordeal. Links to those accounts are listed below.
"We're just trying to come together as a family, a community and as a country to take care of them," said Angela De Andriano, Jayme's cousin. "My family is still mourning the loss of their sister and brother-in-law and, you know, so I can't even imagine being Jayme. These funds are going to go towards the journey with the family as they help Jayme through whatever it may be -- driving to take care of her, taking her to the clinic, using it for medical costs or anything."
Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright declined to say any more about Patterson's motive after the initial court hearing, but he praised Jayme for surviving.
"She's 13 years old, and if you read the criminal complaint, you can see the amount of control that he was exerting over her. And at some point, she found it within herself at 13 years old to say, 'I'm going to get myself out of this situation.' I think it's incredible."