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Jayme Closs: authorities search for motive in ‘tragic’ kidnapping case

Jayme Closs: authorities search for motive in ‘tragic’ kidnapping case

As authorities tried to find out what motivated a Wisconsin man to allegedly kill a couple he appeared not to know and kidnap their 13-year-old daughter, lawyers for the suspect in the murders of James and Denise Closs and the abduction of Jayme Closs lamented “a very tragic situation” and said they were relying on…

As authorities tried to find out what motivated a Wisconsin man to allegedly kill a couple he appeared not to know and kidnap their 13-year-old daughter, lawyers for the suspect in the murders of James and Denise Closs and the abduction of Jayme Closs lamented “a very tragic situation” and said they were relying on the courts to treat their client fairly.

In a statement, attorneys Charles Glynn and Richard Jones said they awaited Jake Thomas Patterson’s initial court appearance and the filing of charges against him on Monday.

Someone blasted open the door of James and Denise Closs’ home near Barron with a shotgun in October, shot the couple dead and made off with their 13-year-old daughter, Jayme.

Jayme had been missing for nearly three months when, on Thursday, she approached a stranger near the small, isolated town of Gordon and pleaded for help. Officers arrested Patterson, 21, minutes later, based on Jayme’s description of his vehicle. He was jailed on suspicion of kidnapping and homicide.

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Patterson, who was unemployed, has no criminal record, the Barron county sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said. He worked for one day in 2016 at the same Jennie-O turkey plant in Barron as Jayme’s parents. But the sheriff said it did not appear Patterson interacted with the couple.

Jayme’s grandfather, Robert Naiberg, said in a telephone interview on Saturday the only thing the family knows for sure is that no one knew Patterson. He said Jayme told FBI agents she didn’t know him at all.

“He didn’t know Jayme, he didn’t know Denise or Jim,” Naiberg said. “[Jayme] don’t know him from Adam. [But] he knew what he was doing. We don’t know if he was stalking her or what. Did he see her somewhere?”

The Baron county sheriff holds up a photo of the suspect, Jake Thomas Patterson.

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The Baron county sheriff holds up a photo of the suspect, Jake Thomas Patterson. Photograph: Craig Lassig/EPA

The news that Jayme was safe set off joy and relief in her hometown of Barron, population 3,300 and about 60 miles from where she was found. The discovery ended an all-out search that gripped the state, with many people fearing the worst.

Jayme’s aunt, Jennifer Smith, posted on Facebook on Saturday, writing: “Jayme had a pretty good night sleep it was great to know she was next to me all night what a great feeling to have her home. As a family we will get through all of the healing process Jayme has. It will be a long road but we are family strong and we love this little girl so much!!”

Another aunt, Sue Naiberg Allard, posted that Jayme got “the most awaited hug ever”.

Jayme told one of the neighbors in Gordon who took her in that she had walked away from a cabin where she had been held.

“She said that this person’s name was Jake Patterson, ‘he killed my parents and took me,”’ said another neighbor, Kristin Kasinskas. “She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him.”

Sheriff Fitzgerald said investigators were trying to figure out what happened to Jayme during her captivity and why she was seized, and gave no details on how she escaped except to say Patterson was not home at the time. He said there is no evidence Patterson knew Jayme or her family or had been in contact with her on social media.

A sign displayed in Barron, Wisconsin, after Jayme was found.

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A sign displayed in Barron, Wisconsin, after Jayme was found. Photograph: Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images

“I know all of you are searching for the answer why any of this happened,” Fitzgerald said. “Believe me, so are we.” The sheriff said he didn’t know whether Jayme had been physically abused.

Patterson took measures to avoid leaving evidence at the scene, including shaving his head beforehand, and a shotgun was recovered from the home where Jayme was believed held, Fitzgerald said. Property records show that the cabin belonged to Patterson’s father.

The cabin is in Eau Claire Acres, about 10 miles outside the tiny town of Gordon, in the dense evergreen forests of north-western Wisconsin. Law enforcement barricades blocked the road leading to the property on Saturday.

Over the past few months, detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches for Jayme, including one that drew 2,000 volunteers but yielded no clues.

Naiberg, Jayme’s grandfather, said he spent a few hours with her on Friday. No one pressed her to talk, he said, adding that FBI agents and doctors advised them to let her speak when she’s ready. He said she was largely silent.

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