BARRON COUNTY, Wis. —Wisconsin authorities say they believe 13-year-old Jayme Closs was “the only target” of a man suspected of kidnapping her and killing her parents in October.
At a news conference Friday, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald identified 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson as the man suspected in the crimes. He says Patterson “planned his actions and took many steps to hide his identity” and that Patterson had no prior criminal record.
Fitzgerald says Jayme managed to escape from a cabin on Thursday and approached a woman who was walking her dog. That woman alerted a nearby neighbor, who called 911.
Fitzgerald says Closs was medically cleared, is out of the hospital and is being interviewed by law enforcement.
Mysterious 911 call
Since Jayme disappeared, authorities had said they believe she’s in danger. Her parents, James and Denise Closs, were found shot dead in their home the same night she went missing.
Investigators say a mysterious 911 call led deputies to discover the bodies. When the dispatcher called the number back, a voice mail greeting indicated the phone belonged to Denise Closs. The log does not indicate who made the 911 call, but the dispatcher heard yelling in the background.
Police arrived to find the door kicked in but no one was there. Investigators said they believed Jayme was at home during the shooting.
Thousands of people joined search parties for months as investigators received thousands of tips. The FBI offered a cash reward for information on her whereabouts and hunters in the area were urged to be on the lookout for clues.
Months of searches and thousands of tips have not yielded any clues. But Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said they never got tired of looking for Jayme.
“We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “This case has been very trying on the family so please respect their privacy and we reunite them later tonight.”
He also thanked the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, which responded to the scene when Jayme was found, and other law enforcement agencies that helped in the search.
Barron is 90 miles east of Minneapolis.