Several weapons, including a shotgun like the one used to kill Jayme Closs’ parents, were found in the Wisconsin home from which the disheveled girl miraculously escaped months after she was kidnapped by the man who killed her mom and dad, authorities said Friday.
Cops piecing together the details of the murder and abduction drama said 13-year-old Jayme was the target of diabolical white suspect Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, who is accused of killing 56-year-old James Closs and his wife Denise, 46, in October, 70 miles away from where their kidnapped daughter was found.
Jayme, who had been missing for months from her Barron, Wisc., home, surfaced in the rural town of Gordon Thursday after she escaped from Patterson’s house and flagged down a woman walking her dog for help.
Authorities do not yet know the suspect’s connection to Jayme, but believe she was his intended target — not her parents.
But Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said officials were more immediately concerned with reuniting Jayme and her family than they were with solving the mystery.
“I’m not looking to put pressure on Jayme on her family,” Fitzgerald told reporters. “We want to reunite her. Some of that can wait.”
Even so, between 30 and 40 investigators were on the scene in the wooded Gordon area trying to determine how the terrorist kept Jayme hidden for weeks.
Fitzgerald noted that Patterson was “not on our radar” and has no criminal history. He added that investigators believe the alleged kidnapper killed Jayme's parents because he wanted to abduct the teen, and that Patterson “planned his actions and took many steps to hide his identity.”
Kristin and Peter Kasinskas were enjoying a quiet evening at their Gordon home Thursday when they heard a frantic pounding on their door, the Star Tribune reported. Peter said he felt like he “was seeing a ghost” when they opened it to see their neighbor, Jeanne Nutter, standing next to a thin girl, wearing shoes too big for her feet.
“This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!” she ordered.
Nutter, who has been a social worker in child protection for years, said Jayme grabbed onto her before explaining who she was.
“I was terrified, but I didn’t want to show her that. She just yelled please help me I don’t know where I am,” she said. “My only thought was to get her to a safe place.”
Fitzgerald told reporters Jayme was able to escape from a cabin in the area on foot and immediately sought out assistance.
“It’s amazing, the will of that girl to survive,” he added.
The Kasinskases said Jayme was quiet and showed little emotion in the 20 minutes or so she spent in their home. She told them she’d been abducted and that she didn’t know where she was or anything about Gordon, a heavily forested town with a population of about 645.
“She said the person’s name was Jake Patterson, he killed my parents and took me,” Kristin Kasinskas said. “She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him.”
The middle-schooler had been missing since Oct. 15, the same day her parents were discovered fatally shot inside their home
Fitzgerald said Jayme, who had been cleared by the hospital, is currently undergoing a reunification process, which includes mental evaluations as well as questioning by the FBI and local detectives.
A Douglas County patrol sergeant took the white on white criminal into custody after spotting a vehicle matching a description Jayme had given to authorities.
“This case was challenging given the proactive steps the suspect took to avoid detection,” said Justin Tolomeo, special-agent-in-charge of the FBI's Milwaukee division. “In cases like this, we often need a big break and it was Jayme herself who gave us that break.”
Patterson was being held Friday at the Barron County Jail on a kidnapping charge and two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of Jayme’s parents