The Wisconsin man accused of kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents has pleaded guilty to both charges, the Green Bay Press Gazette reports.
Jake Patterson, 21, was accused of several crimes: two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, kidnapping, and armed burglary, the last of which prosecutors dropped as part of a plea agreement; they also agreed to not charge him with any crimes he committed at his home in Douglas County. During the arraignment on March 27, Patterson struggled to speak, only saying “yes” through tears to Judge James Babler’s questions about the charges.
Below, here’s all we know about the case.
What does the criminal complaint say about Jake Patterson?
According to the court document, Patterson first saw Closs get on a school bus on his drive to work one morning, after which he decided “that was the girl he was going to take,” he told investigators. After deciding to kidnap her, he drove to her house twice, but it wasn’t until the third time that he went through with his plan to take Jayme and “kill anyone in the house because he could not leave any eyewitness behind,” per the complaint.
Once inside the house, Patterson shot Closs’s father, James, at the door, and later killed her mother, Denise, who was hiding with Closs in the bathroom. Per the complaint, Patterson then took Closs to his car and threw her in the trunk before driving her back to his remote cabin. He kept her there for several weeks, according to the New York Times; whenever guests came over, he would force her to hide under his bed, which he surrounded by laundry bins and barbell weights to prevent her from escaping. At times, she was allegedly kept under there for up the 12 hours with no access to food or water.
“One time, (Jayme) stated 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,” the complaint reads.
How did Jayme Closs escape?
On January 10, after Patterson barricaded Closs underneath his bed and told her he’d be away for five to six hours, Closs saw an opportunity to break free, per the complaint. Once she was certain that he’d left, she put on a pair of his shoes, “walked out of the house and walked towards the road to a woman who she saw walking a dog.”
When Jeanne Nutter, the dog-walker, saw Closs, the former told People that she instantly thought the 13-year-old looked familiar. As soon as Closs told Nutter her name, they quickly started knocking on doors to get out of the open.
“I said, ‘Oh Jayme, we’ll find somebody,’” Nutter told People. “‘I know a teacher who lives down the road.’ I was talking calmly, but I was freaking out inside.”
They eventually found refuge in Kristin and Peter Kasinskas’s house, where they called 911 while Peter stood at the door with a gun in case Patterson were to show up. On their way to the Kasinskas’s house, police officers reportedly passed Patterson, who they arrested just one hour after the 911 call.
How has Jayme Closs’ family responded?
Since escaping in January, Closs has been living with her aunt, and has been surrounded by by family members whose top priority is to make her feel safe and loved. On CBS This Morning,” Closs’ cousin Lindsey Smith and two of her aunts, Sue Allard and Lynn Closs, told host Gayle King that they still have to pinch themselves to know they’re not dreaming that Closs is back home, and they they no longer wake up every morning with a pit in the bottom of stomachs.
“It’s such an overwhelming, amazing happy ending to such a horrible beginning,” Lynn said.
On January 24, the Washington Post reported that Closs would be receiving the $25,000 that Hormel Foods put up for information that would lead to the girl’s safe return. (Closs’s parents worked for a local Hormel subsidiary.) In short, Closs is being rewarded for saving herself.
What comes next?
Because Patterson took a plea deal, there will be no trial. Therefore, his next court appearance will be his sentencing on May 24.
This post has been updated throughout.