BARRON, Wis. (Reuters) – Family members of 13-year-old Jayme Closs said the Wisconsin man who murdered her parents and kidnapped her was a “monster” who stole her “normal life,” in testimony ahead of his sentencing on Friday.
Jake Patterson, 21, accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old girl after murdering her parents, appears via live video from jail, wearing an orange jumpsuit, during his first court appearance in Barron, Wisconsin, U.S., January 14, 2019. Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune/Pool via REUTERS
Jake Patterson, 21, in March admitted to committing the October killings and abduction in Barron County, Wisconsin. He told investigators Closs “was the girl he was going to take” after he saw her get on a school bus. His motivations remain a mystery.
“Because of this monster, Jayme won’t have her mom and dad at her dance recitals,” Mike Closs, Jayme’s uncle, said in Barron County court. “She won’t have my brother to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.”
Patterson pleaded guilty to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. He faces a maximum of life in prison for each of the homicide counts and up to 40 years for the kidnapping, prosecutors said.
“She lives in fear, doesn’t have a normal 13-year-old life, and that’s all from what you did, it’s so heartbreaking,” Closs’ aunt Jennifer Smith said in testimony directed at Patterson. “I won’t let you destroy our family no more. We can be happy.”
Patterson, with close-cropped hair and dressed in an orange prison uniform, sat with his head down. But he shook his head when Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright said he remained a threat to Jayme.
“If he is ever released from prison he will find Jayme and her life will be in danger,” said Wright, requesting a sentence of life imprisonment without the opportunity of parole.
One of Patterson’s defense lawyer said “a lifetime of social isolation” led him to commit the crimes. He said he left this isolation briefly to join the U.S. Marines, but was soon discharged from the service due to an “ailment.”
“He came home and went back to that place of isolation,” attorney Rick Jones said.
Patterson carefully planned the crime, according to police, visiting the Closs family twice before he pulled into the driveway in the early hours of Oct. 15.
Dressed in black with a face mask, Patterson shot Closs’ father through the front door with a shotgun, according to the criminal complaint.
He broke down the bathroom door where Closs and her mother were hiding, bound the girl with duct tape, then shot her mother. He put Closs in the trunk of his car and drove to his cabin in Gordon, about 60 miles (97 km) north of Barron, according to police.
Patterson, described by people who knew him as a quiet student, kept Closs locked in his room and barricaded her under his bed when he had guests, according to court documents.
On Jan. 10, when Patterson left the cabin, the girl escaped. A dog walker found her, neighbors called 911 and police subsequently arrested Patterson.
Reporting by Joey Peters in Barron, Wisconsin, additional reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Scott Malone, Dan Grebler and Alistair Bell