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

Media caption,
Missing 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 home where she had been held against her will after her parents' murder.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Police say the suspect took steps to conceal his identity

Jayme has been reunited with her aunt, said officials during a news conference on Friday, and she is "doing as well as circumstances allow".

They described Jayme as the suspect's "only target" and said she was "taken against her will".

Officials did not expand on why Jayme was snatched.

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

The lawman 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."

"Jayme is the hero in this case there's no question about it."

Media caption,
Aunt tearfully reacts to missing Wisconsin girl found safe

How was Jayme found?

Jayme was discovered on Thursday in the small town of Gordon, some 70 miles (110km) 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.

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."

Sheriff Fitzgerald said investigators did not yet know how Jayme escaped from the rural home or how the suspect was keeping her there.

He said the suspect was not at home when Jayme fled, and that he was probably driving around looking for her when police arrested him.

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

She told the Associated Press that the girl 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."

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

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

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

Image source, AFP/Getty Images
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A police car blocks the road where Jayme was found on January 11 in Gordon, Wisconsin

What do we know about the suspect?

Sheriff Fitzgerald said Mr Patterson has no criminal history in the state of Wisconsin. Police are still determining how he became aware of Jayme.

He said the unemployed suspect had ties to the city of Barron, where the Closses lived, and may have worked in the area.

Investigators say he took "many proactive steps" to hide his identity from law enforcement and the public, including shaving his head to change his appearance and avoid leaving any trace of evidence at the crime scene.

"The suspect had specific intentions to kidnap Jayme and went to great lengths to prepare to take her," Sheriff Fitzgerald said.

Police have recovered several guns that appear to belong to Mr Patterson, including a shotgun that resembles the weapon ballistics experts suspect was used in the killing of Jayme's parents.

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 Associated 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.

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

Sheriff Fitzgerald did not comment on whether Mr Patterson was co-operating, but said he has been in his cell "without incident".

Barron County District Attorney Brian Right said the suspect is due to appear in court on Monday.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Sheriff Fitzgerald said Jayme had been taken against her will and held captive

How was Jayme abducted?

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.

What's the reaction?

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".

A survivor of one of America's most infamous kidnaps has welcomed the news.

Elizabeth Smart - who was abducted aged 14 in 2002 in Utah and held captive for nine months - posted on Instagram: "No matter what may unfold in her story let's all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED."