Authorities in Wisconsin arrested a 21-year-old man Thursday, months after officials believe he killed a couple and abducted their 13-year-old daughter, who has been found safe.
Jayme Closs had been missing since early Oct. 15, when Barron County deputies responding to a 911 call found her parents, James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, shot to death in the family home in Barron, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Friday that Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, of Gordon, was in custody in suspicion of killing the Closses and abducting Jayme.
Update 11:40 a.m. EST Jan. 11: Authorities believe Patterson targeted Jayme, although Fitzgerald said as of Friday, investigators had yet to find any connection between the Patterson and the Closs family.
Patterson was not known to law enforcement before his arrest Thursday, after authorities said Jayme escaped from a home in Douglas County and approached a woman who was walking her dog.
Fitzgerald said investigators believe Patterson killed Jayme’s parents because he wanted to abduct her and that Patterson took several steps “to hide his identity.”
“Based on the limited information I have, she was the target,” he said Friday, although he declined to elaborate on the evidence.
Prosecutors said at a news conference Friday that Patterson will likely be charged with two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping.
Jayme was taken to a hospital Thursday after she was found weeks after she was last seen in October. Fitzgerald said she had been medically cleared after the incident and that investigators were interviewing her Friday.
Authorities are expected to provide more updates at a news conference Friday afternoon.
Update 11:15 a.m. EST Jan. 11: Authorities on Friday identified a 21-year-old man who was taken into custody one day earlier in connection with Jayme’s disappearance and the death of her parents.
Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, of Gordon, was taken into custody shortly after Jayme was found, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said.
“Jayme was taken against her will and escaped from a residence,” Fitzgerald said. “(She) is safe and the family is requesting that you please respect their privacy.”
Original report: Relatives of a 13-year-old Wisconsin girl missing since her parents were killed in October expressed relief Thursday night after she was found alive, KARE reported.
Jayme Closs is safe and a suspect is in custody, the Barron County Sheriff's Department wrote on its Facebook page Thursday night. The department did not release any other details but said it would hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Friday.
"I mean I’m shocked," Jayme's aunt, Kelly Engelhardt, told KARE. "It's what we’ve prayed for every single day."
“Praise the Lord,” Sue Allard, another of Jayme’s aunts, 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.”
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office confirmed that Jayme was found in Gordon, Wisconsin, at 4:43 p.m. Thursday and that a suspect was taken into custody 11 minutes later.
Jayme had been missing since early Oct. 15, when Barron County deputies responding to a 911 call found her parents, James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, shot to death in the family home in Barron, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Gordon is located about 65 miles north of Barron. Denny Kline, the board chairman for the Town of Gordon, told KSTP he heard the teen had been found as he listened to a police scanner.
The woman who found Jayme, who asked that her name not be used, told the Star Tribune the teen, “came up to me and said she wanted help.”
About 4 p.m. Thursday, Kristin Kasinskas said the woman knocked on the family’s front door.
“This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!” the woman said, Kasinskas told the Star Tribune.
“I honestly still think I’m dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost,” Peter Kasinskas told the newspaper. “It was scary and awesome at the same time. My jaw just went to the floor.”
Jayme’s cousin, Lacey Naiberg, posted thanks on Facebook, noting “We will forever hold you all close to our hearts.”
“There are no words to describe how humbling it is to have so many people who don't even know you come together to help our family,” Naiberg wrote.
The sister of Denise Closs, Jennifer Naiberg Smith, told KSTP that Jayme was being examined at a hospital in Duluth. Smith told the television station she did not believe the middle school student was injured.
Jayme’s grandfather, Robert Naiberg, also expressed joy and relief, KSTP reported.
"Everybody is so happy," Naiberg told the television station. "We can't believe it."
"A lot of people have been praying daily, as I have. It's just a great result we got tonight. It's unbelievable," Barron Mayor Ron Fladten told WISN. "It's like taking a big black cloud in the sky and getting rid of it and the sun comes out again."
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