‘Just a quiet, very smart kid’: Woman who sheltered Jayme Closs says alleged kidnapper was her former student
BARRON COUNTY, Wis. (CNN) — There was a loud knock at the door. Kristin Kasinskas opened it to find her neighbor and a skinny girl with unkempt hair and oversized shoes.
The girl was Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old who had vanished after her parents were found dead more than two months ago, the neighbor told Kasinkas. And her alleged kidnaper was still out there, likely hunting for her.
“Get a weapon,” Kasinskas remembered her neighbor, Jeanne Nutter, saying after she ushered them inside the home in rural Gordon, Wisconsin — about 70 miles north of where Jayme was last seen.
Kasinskas retrieved a gun they kept inside the house and brought the teenager into her living room.
Kasinskas and Nutter called 911, passing the phone back and forth between them, while Kasinskas’ husband stood at the front door with the gun, in case Jayme’s alleged abductor came into the yard before the police arrived. “We were armed and ready,” Kasinskas said in an interview on Sunday.
“My neighbor and I … legitimately thought someone was coming for her,” Kasinskas said. “We didn’t even really have time to be scared, it was happening quickly.”
Then, as the teenager the whole state was looking for was sitting in her living room, Kasinskas made a startling realization: she knew the man Jayme identified as her kidnapper.
The suspect, Jake Thomas Patterson, a 21-year-old Gordon resident, was arrested shortly after Jayme was discovered last Thursday. He faces two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for killing Closs’ parents and one count of kidnapping, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Friday.
CNN has reached out for comment to Patterson’s lawyers and is waiting to hear back.
‘I think he was my student’
A mysterious phone call early on October 15 led authorities to discover that Jayme’s parents — James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46 — had been shot dead at their family’s home near the small town of Barron in northwestern Wisconsin. The call came in from Denise Closs’ cell phone. No one on the line talked to the dispatcher, but the dispatcher “could hear a lot of yelling.” Jayme vanished that day.
Tips poured in. Some 2,000 volunteers — a number equivalent to two-thirds of Barron’s population — searched for Jayme at one point. The town never gave up hope. But there was still no sign of her, until Nutter stumbled upon the teenager while she was walking her dog last Thursday.
Jayme was alone, without a coat or gloves in the Midwestern chill, Nutter said.
“I’m lost, and I don’t know where I am, and I need help,” Nutter recalled Jayme saying before she brought the girl to the Kasinskas’ home.
The teenager said she was being held captive by someone in a home nearby who “killed my parents and took me,” Kasinskas told CNN last week.
“When I was on with 911, I was asking the questions. Jayme wasn’t really talking on her own. I asked her, ‘Who had you?’ and ‘Where did they have you?’ I asked her about the vehicle, she said ‘red car, Jake Patterson,'” Kasinskas said.
Kasinskas said she told the 911 dispatcher: “Jake Patterson, Jayme, this is real.”
When Jayme said the name, Kasinskas said she immediately recognized it. She teaches science to middle and high school students, and she remembered one middle schooler named Jake Patterson.
“In my mind, I said, ‘oh, that can’t be the same person,'” she said. But Jayme said his age, and Kasinskas realized the ages lined up, too.
“I think he was my student,” she recalled saying.
Nothing in particular stood out about Patterson in middle school, Kasinskas said.
“He was very quiet, not a trouble maker that I can remember. Just a quiet, very smart kid,” she said. “He wasn’t super active in student body life. He did well in class, he was a good student. I wouldn’t say the most popular kid, but he had friends.”
‘He was in the neighborhood’
Jayme told them Patterson wasn’t going to be home until midnight, Kasinskas recalled. But they were still concerned he might be after her.
They didn’t know where he was.
Kasinskas said she and her husband put their two children in the basement with the dogs, “and told them to watch the TV until we said it was OK to come back upstairs.”
The two women hovered around Jayme as they waited for the police to arrive. Police showed up about 20 to 30 minutes later.
“The officer told us to get away from the windows and get downstairs,” Kasinskas said. “An officer sent my husband to the back door and told him to stand there with the gun in case he comes that way.”
Minutes later, the police radio cackled: Patterson had been apprehended. He wasn’t very far away when police found him, Kasinskas said.
“We were kind of terrified when we heard that,” Kasinskas said. “We realized he was in the neighborhood coming back for her.”