BARRON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin man was sentenced Friday to life in prison for kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents in a case that mystified authorities for months until the girl made a daring escape from the remote cabin where she was held for 88 days.
Jake Patterson, 21, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. He admitted to abducting Jayme in October after killing her parents, James and Denise Closs, at the family’s home near Barron, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Minneapolis. Jayme escaped in January from Patterson’s cabin near the small and isolated town of Gordon, some 60 miles (97 kilometers) from her home.
In a statement read in court, Jayme said Patterson “thought that he could own me, but he’s wrong. I was smarter.” She said she wanted to see Patterson “locked up forever.”
She did not appear in court, and her guardian read the statement.
Patterson was sentenced to life in prison without possibility for release on each homicide count and 25 years in prison on the kidnapping count. The sentences will be served consecutively. Those were the maximum sentences the judge could impose. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.
Patterson told authorities he decided Jayme “was the girl he was going to take” after he saw her getting on a school bus near her home, according to a criminal complaint. He told investigators he plotted carefully, including wearing all-black clothing, putting stolen license plates on his car and taking care to leave no fingerprints on his shotgun.
Jayme told police that the night of her abduction, the family dog’s barking awoke her, and she went to wake up her parents as a car came up the driveway. While her father went to the front door, Jayme and her mother hid in the bathroom, clutching each other in the bathtub, the shower curtain pulled shut.
Patterson shot Jayme’s father as he entered the house, then found Jayme and her mother. He told detectives he wrapped tape around Jayme’s mouth and head, taped her hands behind her back and taped her ankles together, then shot her mother in the head. He told police he dragged Jayme outside and threw her in the trunk of his car, the complaint said.
At his cabin, Patterson forced Jayme to hide under a bed when he had friends over and penned her in with tote boxes and weights, warning that if she moved, “bad things could happen to her,” according to the complaint. He also turned up the radio so visitors couldn’t hear her.
Prosecutors in the county where Jayme was held decided not to bring charges related to anything that might have happened in the cabin, a move that was widely seen as aiming to spare Jayme further pain and keep details private.
Authorities searched for Jayme for months and collected more than 3,500 tips. Jayme escaped on Jan. 10 while Patterson was away and flagged down a woman who was walking a dog. Patterson was arrested minutes later.