Girl, 13, escapes three months after kidnapper killed her parents
Suspect arrested 11 minutes after dishevelled girl flees cabin on foot and begs dog walker for help
An American man “targeted” and kidnapped a teenage girl who escaped her captor three months after he murdered her parents in their home, police say.
Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, was named by police as the man they suspected of murdering James and Denise Closs before abducting 13-year-old Jayme in mid-October. Chris Fitzgerald, sheriff of Wisconsin’s Barron County, said on Friday that detectives believe Patterson killed the couple because he wanted to seize their daughter. He said she appeared to be the “only target”.
The case has gripped the northern US state for 88 days, with police receiving thousands of tips from the public since the 13-year-old disappeared.
Jayme went missing on October 15, when emergency services received a call at the family address in Barron from a cellphone. Nobody spoke but a disturbance could be heard. When police arrived four minutes later, Jayme’s parents were discovered dead but there was no trace of the teenager.
Police said they believed she had been forced from her home by an “unknown individual, likely with a gun”. A statewide search ended on Thursday evening when Jayme reportedly escaped from a rural home near Gordon, Wisconsin.
Police said that at 4.43pm on Thursday the girl sought help from a woman walking her dog in a wooded neighbourhood near the small town, 96km north of Barron. A suspect was taken into custody 11 minutes later.
The dog walker, Jeanne Nutter, said she was on a rural road when a dishevelled teenage girl called out to her for help and identified herself as Jayme. Nutter said Jayme told her she had escaped on foot from a cabin where she had been held captive.
“I was terrified, but I didn’t want to show her that,” Nutter, a social worker, said. “She just yelled: ‘Please help me, I don’t know where I am. I’m lost’. My only thought was to get her to a safe place.”
They went to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas, who said Jayme looked thin and dirty, wearing shoes too big for her feet. Kristin said Jayme had identified the suspect once she was safely inside her home. “She said that this person’s name was Jake Patterson, he killed my parents and took me,” she said. “She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him.”
Patterson lived just three doors down from the Kasinskas couple, but Kristin said she did not realise it until police identified him as the suspect. She said she had taught the 21-year-old science in middle school, adding: “He seemed like a quiet kid. I don’t recall anything that would have explained this, by any means.”
Fitzgerald said Patterson, who is being held on kidnapping and homicide charges, took Jayme against her will and “planned his actions”. The sheriff said he “surrendered willingly”. Detectives were trying to establish how the teenager became a target. They did not believe the suspect, who is unemployed and from Gordon, about 96km from the Closs home, had any contact with the family.
Sue Allard, Jayme’s aunt, told the Star Tribune newspaper she could barely express her joy. “Praise the Lord,” she said between sobs. “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 Daily Telegraph