The Wisconsin man suspected of kidnapping a girl and killing her parents took steps to conceal his identity as he held the teen captive for months, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Friday. Fitzgerald said 13-year-old Jayme Closs was able to escape on Thursday from her captor, who he identified as 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson.
The sheriff's office said Closs was found alive Thursday afternoon in Gordon, a northwest Wisconsin town about 65 miles north of where she went missing from her home in Barron. Jayme had not been seen since her parents were murdered there on October 15.
Closs, appearing thin and bedraggled and wearing men's shoes, walked up to a woman walking her dog around 4 p.m. Thursday and asked for help, the woman's neighbor Peter Kasinskas told CBS News. The woman immediately recognized Jayme and brought her to Kasinskas' home, telling him, "This is Jayme Closs" and "Call 911."
The girl gave authorities a description of a car, and a patrol sergeant found Patterson driving a car that matched the description a short distance away, down the road from the Gordon home, Fitzgerald said at a news conference Friday. Patterson was taken into custody without incident.
Fitzgerald said Patterson apparently kept Jayme captive at the remote home in Gordon before she was able to escape. Details of what happened in the nearly three months since the girl vanished remain unclear, he said, though he said Patterson "took many proactive steps to hide his identity from law enforcement and the general public."
"He concealed his identity and concealed her from other people also," Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said it appears Patterson targeted Jayme and killed her parents in order to abduct her. It appears he had no contact with Jayme or her family prior to the abduction, and it's not clear whether they knew each other, Fitzgerald said. There was also no apparent contact on social media, he said.
Kristin Kasinskas, Peter Kasinskas 's wife, told the AP on Friday that Jayme had identified the suspect once she was safely inside their home.
Patterson lived just three doors down from Kasinskas, but Kasinskas said she didn't realize it until police identified him as the suspect. She said she never saw Patterson on her street or in town, and doesn't remember seeing him since he was in high school.
Kasinskas said she taught Patterson science in middle school, but added: "I don't really remember a ton about him."
"He seemed like a quiet kid," she said. "I don't recall anything that would have explained this, by any means."
Patterson graduated from the Northwood School, a K-12 school in Minong, Wisc., in 2015, district administrator Jean Serum told CBS News. She remembered Patterson as a quiet, good student and a member of the Quiz Bowl team. She said the school was surprised and saddened to learn he was the suspect.
Fitzgerald said Patterson is currently unemployed and does have a "tie" to Barron County -- where the teen was abducted -- but didn't describe the connection. However, Patterson worked for one day in 2016 at the same Jennie-O turkey plant in Barron as Jayme's parents, Jennie-O Turkey Store President Steve Lykken said. Patterson quit the next day, saying he was moving from the area, Lykken said.
Fitzgerald said a search warrant is currently being served on the Gordon home and authorities are also investigating several cars that belong to Patterson, who he said has "zero" criminal history.
The town of Gordon was not on authorities' radar in the search for Jayme, he said. Fitzgerald said he didn't know whether Patterson owned the home there or whether it was the only location where he had allegedly held the girl. Fitzgerald said the teen left the home on foot, but otherwise didn't have details on how she managed to escape.
"It's amazing the will of that 13 year old girl to survive and escape - it comes from the hope and the prayers and this community," Fitzgerald said.
Patterson is being held on two counts of first degree intentional homicide for the murder of Jayme's parents and one count of kidnapping. He is expected to make an initial court appearance sometime next week, after the Barron County District Attorney files a criminal complaint.
Jayme, who was evaluated at a hospital, is being interviewed and will be re-united with her family. Investigators are also interviewing Patterson and expect to transport him back to Barron County.
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