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BARRON COUNTY, Wis. - The man suspected of killing a couple in Wisconsin and holding their 13-year-old daughter captive for three months made his first court appearance Monday in Barron County.
Thomas Patterson, 21, of Gordon was formally charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, one count of kidnapping and one count of armed burglary.
The two counts of intentional homicide in the shooting deaths of Closs’ parents are Class A felonies and both carry a life sentence, if convicted of the charges.
Patterson also waived his right to a preliminary exam at the hearing.
The judge set bail at $5 million, agreeing with the prosecutor that Patterson is a “flight risk” and a “danger to the public.”
Patterson is accused of killing James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, before abducting their daughter, Jayme Closs on Oct. 15, 2018.
Jayme Closs managed to escape from Patterson’s home on Thursday and get help.
Update 3:20 p.m. EST Jan. 14: Patterson confessed to killing James and Denise Closs and kidnapping their daughter in an interview following his arrest last week, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in court.
Patterson told authorities he first noticed Jayme as she was getting on a school bus as he was driving home from a short-lived job he took at a cheese factory.
Patterson told authorities that “he had no idea who she was nor did he know who lived at the house or how many people lived at the house.” He told investigators that when he saw Jayme, “he knew that was the girl he was going to take.”
He told officials he didn’t know Jayme’s name before he abducted her and that he didn’t know her parents’ names until after they surfaced in news reports.
Patterson said he drove to the Closs family’s house twice before the Oct. 15 attack, but he told investigators that both times he was scared away by the amount of activity in the home.
Patterson is expected to be formally read the charges against him – two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, one count of kidnapping and one count of armed burglary – at a court hearing scheduled for 3:30 p.m. local time Monday.
Update 3 p.m. EST Jan. 14: In a criminal complaint filed Monday, prosecutors said Patterson appeared to have fired a shotgun at the deadbolt to the Closs family’s home to gain entry to the residence on Oct. 15.
Jayme told authorities she woke early that morning to the sound of her dog barking only to find a car coming up the driveway to her family’s home. She told investigators she woke her parents. Her father went to check who was at the door and, after they realized the person was armed, Jayme said she and her mother hid in a bathroom.
Patterson broke down the door to the bathroom, shot and killed Jayme’s mother and then taped the 13-year-old’s hands and feet before dragging her to his car, according to authorities. Jayme told investigators that she was in the trunk of the car for about two hours while Patterson drove her to what would turn out to be his home.
There, he made Jayme hide under the bed in his bedroom, stacking totes and laundry bins around the bed with weights stacked against them “so she could not move them without his being able to detect it if she did,” authorities said.
Jayme told investigators Patterson made her stay under his bed for as many as 12 hours at a time without food, water or bathroom breaks.
She escaped last week after Patterson left her alone in the home.
Authorities were called to the Closs family house in Barron just before 1 a.m. on Oct. 15, according to the complaint. Screams could be heard in the background of the call, but the home was quiet when authorities arrived, officials said.
Authorities found James Closs dead of a gunshot wound to his head and neck near the front door, according to authorities. Denise Closs was found dead in the bathroom with a gunshot wound to her head.
Deputies said after Jayme was able to escape on Jan. 10, he admitted to killing the elder Closses and kidnapping Jayme.
“Patterson stated, I know what this is about, ‘I did it,’” according to the criminal complaint.
Authorities said Patterson will face two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, one count of kidnapping and one count of armed burglary.
Update 9:30 a.m. EST Jan. 14: Patterson is expected to appear before a judge in Barron County Circuit Court at 3:30 p.m. for a hearing likely to last no longer than 30 minutes, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Patterson is most likely to make his appearance by video, according to the newspaper, though his attorneys have requested he appear in person.
Prosecutors are set to formally charge Patterson with two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping, The Associated Press reported.
His attorneys, Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, told the AP they believe their client can get a fair trial, “but they’re not sure where.”
"It's been an emotional time for this community and a difficult time for this community,” Jones told the AP. “We don't take that lightly. But we have a job to do in protecting our client."
Update 4:15 p.m. EST Jan 13: A 13-year-old Wisconsin girl was reunited with several members of her family Friday after 88 days of captivity, the Star Tribune reported.
The reunion came a day after authorities in Wisconsin arrested a 21-year-old man, months after officials believe he killed a couple and abducted Jayme Closs, who was found safe Thursday afternoon in a northwestern Wisconsin town.
Jayme’s grandfather, Robert Naiberg, told The Associated Press his granddaughter is doing well, considering the circumstances.
“She’s doing exceptionally well for what she went through,” Naiberg said. “She’s in exceptionally good spirits.”
Update 6:01 a.m. EST Jan 12: “Jayme is the hero in this case, there’s no question about it,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said at a news conference Friday. “It’s amazing, the will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape.”
Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, will appear Monday in Barron County Circuit Court, where he will be charged with kidnapping and two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, the Star Tribune reported. He is being held in the Barron County jail.
Update 5 p.m. EST Jan. 11: In a 5 p.m. news conference, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said that Patterson broke into the Closs’ home with the intention of kidnapping Jayme Closs. Fitzgerald also believes that the suspect shaved his head to avoid leaving hair at the scene.
Patterson was out looking for Jayme when he was arrested.
Fitzgerald said that investigators don’t believe there was any social media connection between Patterson and Jayme.
Investigators are trying to determine how he “became aware” of the girl.
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. That woman knocked on Kristin Kasinskas' door, The Associated Press reported, and Kasinskas called 911.
She told the AP that Jayme said Patterson "killed my parents and took me." She added that the 13-year-old said she had no idea why she'd been targeted.
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."