The nearly three-month long search foris over as the mystery over what happened to her and her parents deepens. The Barron County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday afternoon (Jan. 10) in Gordon, Wisconsin, about 65 miles north of where she went missing from her home in Barron.
The Barron and Douglas Counties’ sheriff’s offices held a press conference Friday morning detailing the case. They announced that Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, of Gordon, Wisc., was arrested on two counts of murder in the deaths of Jayme’s parents, James and Denise Closs, and one count of kidnapping. Fitzgerald said he was being held in the Barron County jail.
Police said Jayme was able to give a description of the suspect’s vehicle, and deputies spotted the vehicle, stopped it and arrested Patterson, according to the Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. Investigators said Patterson was stopped not far from his home, but they didn’t believe he was out looking for her at the time.
Fitzgerald said Jayme was “being held against her will, but she escaped and found help,” he said.
Jayme had not been seen since her parents were murdered there on October 15. Closs was reunited with her extended family Friday, officials said.
Fitzgerald said they did not know yet what had happened to Jayme the last three months, citing a “very active and fluid investigation.”
When Peter Kasinskas answered the pounding at his front door on Thursday, the first words he heard were “This is Jayme Closs” and “Call 911.” It was his neighbor and the missing girl who vanished without a trace almost three months ago.
Kasinskas told CBS News his neighbor was walking her dog in a remote and woodsy area of Gordon, Wisconsin, just after 4 p.m. on Thursday when she ran into Closs. She immediately brought her to the Kasinskas’ home to call authorities.
“She saw this girl screaming ‘help me, help me,'” Kasinskas said. “It was literally like we were seeing a ghost, because we have seen the billboards and the commercials and all that stuff, and there she is in my kitchen, you know.”
According to Kasinskas, Jayme appeared thin and ragged. Wearing what looked like leggings, a sweatshirt and oversized men’s tennis shoes. He said she was quiet while they waited for police to arrive, 15 minutes later.
“She looked the same as in all the photos and little thinner. Her hair was still the same color and length. She just looked a little unkempt like she hadn’t been able to take care of herself or something,” Kasinskas said.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, 11 minutes after police arrived, Patterson was taken into custody.
Jayme’s aunt was relieved her niece had been found alive — nearly three months after the teen’s parents were murdered and Jayme disappeared.
James and Denise Closs were found shot to death in their Barron home on October 15. Police say they received a mostly inaudible 911 call from Denise Closs’s cell phone around midnight. Police arrived four minutes later to find the front door kicked in and the parents dead. Jayme was gone.
Fitzgerald said Friday morning that Jayme was the “intended target” all along, but he didn’t know of any connection between Jayme or Patterson. He said Patterson had no criminal history in the area or state that they were aware. Fitzgerald said they are not looking for any other suspects.
Fitzgerald said they believe Patterson went to the Closs house with the intention of taking Jayme by any means necessary. He said Patterson “took steps” to ensure he wasn’t captured, including altering Jayme’s appearance.
For months, police and volunteers conducted an extensive ground search. Her tight-knit community kept the faith over the holidays, holding a Christmas tree vigil for her. There were very few promising leads, but Jayme’s family never gave up hope.
Police took Jayme to a hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. She stayed there overnight before being cleared and being reunited with her family Friday morning.
Fitzgerald noted there was some confusion the previous night when a false report came in that Jayme had been found in another location. The sheriff’s office posted a note on Facebook saying she had not been found.
But right after that posting, Fitzgerald said, he got a call that she had been found in Douglas County. Three hours later, the sheriff’s office posted the good news.