Suspect named in US missing girl mystery


Composite image of Jayme

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EPA / AFP

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

Police have named a suspect in the case of a 13-year-old Wisconsin girl who was kidnapped in October after her parents were murdered.

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

Jayme Closs was found on Thursday evening and is to be reunited with her family, said officials.

Police believe the suspect attacked the Closs family in order to abduct Jayme.

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AFP

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Police say the suspect took steps to conceal his identity

They described the 13-year-old as the suspect’s “only target” and said Jayme was “taken against her will”.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Mr Patterson has no criminal history in the state of Wisconsin.

Investigators say he took “many proactive steps” to hide his identity from law enforcement and the public.

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Media captionAunt tearfully reacts to missing Wisconsin girl found safe

Officials did not expand on why Jayme was targeted. Sheriff Fitzgerald said Jayme did not have any contact with Mr Patterson on social media.

He said Mr Patterson had ties to the Barron area, but did not elaborate.

Sheriff Fitzgerald noted police information was “limited” and Jayme is still being interviewed.

“There is a reunification process in place going on right now that includes medical mental evaluation, questioning by detectives and FBI agents, and then reunification with family,” he said.

“It’s amazing – the will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape.”

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EPA

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Sheriff Fitzgerald said Jayme had been taken against her will and held captive

Jayme was found on Thursday in the small town of Gordon, some 70 miles (112km) from her home in Barron.

Police say she had escaped on foot from a remote cabin.

According to Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec, Gordon police pinpointed and arrested Mr Patterson 11 minutes later thanks to a description of his vehicle that Jayme provided.

Mr Patterson was interviewed by Douglas County officials and then transported to the Barron County jail.

Police said the suspect is currently unemployed.

FBI Special Agent Justin Tolomeo told reporters: “In cases like this we often need a big break – it was Jayme herself who gave us that break.”

The Barron County District Attorney Brian Right said he plans to have a criminal complaint against Mr Patterson filed by next week.

Local teacher Jeanne Nutter was walking her dog when she found Jayme on Thursday.

She told the Associated Press that the 13-year-old had shouted “please help me, I don’t know where I am, I’m lost”.

Ms Nutter said Jayme was skinny, dirty and wearing shoes too large for her feet.

She brought Jayme to the home of neighbour Peter Kasinskas, as it was farther away from where she found the teenager.

“It was like I was seeing a ghost,” Mr Kasinskas told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “My jaw just went to the floor.”

Jayme stayed at the home for about 20 minutes and declined food and water, the Associated Press reports.

Jayme’s aunt, Sue Allard, told the 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.”

Her uncle, Jeff Closs, told KARE News the family had “thought it was going to be a different ending”.

“We don’t really know what shape she’s in,” he added. “We don’t really know a lot, all we know is just she’s alive.”

During the intense, nationwide investigation for Jayme, officials from the FBI, state patrol and local law enforcement received thousands of tips.

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AFP/Getty Images

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A police car blocks the road where Jayme was found on January 11 in Gordon, Wisconsin

The area where Jayme was eventually found is a remote subdivision with around 30 homes near the Eau Claire River, the Tribune reported. The town of Gordon itself has under 750 residents, according to census data.

On Monday 15 October 2018, emergency services received a call at the Closs family address in Barron from a mobile phone.

They heard a disturbance in the background, but no-one spoke to them directly.

When police arrived four minutes later, no gun or suspects were found at the scene and there was no sign of Jayme.

The deaths of James and Denise Closs were ruled as homicide by a medical examiner.



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