The case of the missing 13-year-old


Photograph of Jayme ClossImage copyright
Barron County Sheriff’s Department

Image caption

Jayme Closs, 13, has been described as a “sweet girl” by school officials

After 87 days, 13-year-old Jayme Closs has been found alive in rural Wisconsin.

The teenager disappeared on the day her parents were found murdered at their house in the town of Barron.

Months later, Jayme reappeared in the sparsely-populated town of Gordon, about 70 miles (113km) north of her hometown.

Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, is being held on two counts of first-degree homicide and one count of kidnapping.

Police believe he murdered the teenager’s parents in order to abduct her.

Here’s what we know so far about the case.

When did she disappear?

Just after midnight early on 15 October, police received a 911 emergency call from Denise Closs’ mobile phone.

Nobody spoke, but the dispatcher could hear muffled yelling at the other end of the line.

When the police arrived only four minutes later, they found the front door kicked in and Denise, 46, and her husband James, 56, shot dead.

No gun or suspects were found at the scene and there was no sign of Jayme.

Police ruled Denise and James’ deaths homicide, and appealed for help finding Jayme.

An alert stated that she was taken from her home by “unknown individual(s), likely with a gun”.

Jayme’s school district held a “Gathering of Hope” for their missing student at a local high school on 22 October, while a funeral for the Closs parents was held on 27 October.

But despite thousands of tips, the authorities had few leads. A Facebook appeal on 15 November asked hunters to keep an eye out for anything suspicious in the area.

In a town of only about 3,400 residents, the murders and disappearance gripped the local community.

At one point, more than 2,000 people joined the sheriff’s hunt for the 13-year-old.

When was Jayme found?

On 10 January, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office announced Jayme had been found alive.

Jeanne Nutter was walking her dog on Thursday afternoon when Jayme approached her for help and revealed her identity.

“She just yelled please help me I don’t know where I am. I’m lost,” Ms Nutter, a social worker, told the Associated Press.

Jayme told the woman she had escaped from a cabin where she was being held, not far from Ms Nutter’s home.

Local teacher Kristin Kasinkas told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune the dog walker had knocked on her door and told her, “This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!”.

Jayme was reportedly wearing shoes too large for her feet, and refused offers of food or water.

She said she did not know where she was or anything about Gordon, and Peter Kasinkas said she was quiet and her emotions were “pretty flat”.

Jayme has been medically cleared and released from hospital, but has yet to be reunited with her family. She is being interviewed by law enforcement and is expected to be back in Baron County by Friday afternoon, according to the sheriff.

What about the arrested suspect?

Police arrested Jake Thomas Patterson of Gordon, Wisconsin, only 11 minutes after they found Jayme.

The small town of Gordon is about 40 miles (64km) south of Lake Superior and about 65 miles north of Jayme’s hometown of Barron.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said at a news conference on Friday morning that Mr Patterson, who is unemployed, has no criminal history in the state of Wisconsin.

The suspect took several steps to conceal his identity from law enforcement and the public, investigators say.

The sheriff said investigators believe Jayme was “the only target”.

Ms Kasinkas told the AP she taught Mr Patterson, who lives just three doors away, in secondary school but did not remember much about him. She did not recall seeing him around town or on her street.

“He seemed like a quiet kid,” she said. “I don’t recall anything that would have explained this, by any means.”


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