A 13-year-old Wisconsin girl who had been missing since October was found alive in rural Douglas County on Thursday, authorities said.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that Jayme Closs was found in the Town of Gordon at 4:43 p.m. and a suspect was taken into custody there just minutes later, at 4:54.
During a Friday morning press conference in Barron, authorities said the suspect is Jake Patterson, 21, of Gordon, and is being held in Barron County Jail. He is being held on two counts of first degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. No prior criminal record was immediately found for Patterson in either Wisconsin or Minnesota.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office posted on their Facebook page late Thursday thanking “the citizen who phoned in the information.”
Peter Kasinskas said he was cleaning fish in the kitchen when his dogs “started going crazy.” His wife, Kristin, and children, ages 7 and 9, were getting home.
“And then the neighbor lady was pounding on our door in the kitchen. She opened the door, her dog ran in, and then she helped this girl into the kitchen. She said: ‘It’s Jayme Closs. Call 911.’”
“My jaw hit the floor.”
Kasinskas’ wife called 911.
“Jayme was able to give us the person’s name and the color of the car that he drove (red), so when we called the police they could know who they were looking for.”
“She was probably in shock. She was pretty quiet. She didn’t say a lot.”
Kasinskas said Closs was being held about quarter mile away from his home, and the neighbor who found her brought the girl to the Kasinskas house.
“She knew that we were home, and she knew that I had equipment to protect my house if anybody was coming,” he said.
“So, they got in the house, and I loaded a gun and got ready and was standing at the door waiting until the police showed up, because she (Jayme) said she didn’t know when he was coming back. When she was sitting on my couch, I couldn’t believe it. I just said to her: ‘I am so happy to see you,’ because I thought she was dead.”
Kasinskas said Closs declined any food or drink while they waited for police to arrive.
“She looked frozen, so I gave her a blanket,” he said. “She looked thin. She looked like she hadn’t been able to bathe or take care of herself. She just looked kind of run down and dirty. She looked probably 15 pounds lighter than her photos.
“She was very quiet. She was probably still in shock or in relief. Her head had to be going even more than ours was.”
Police officers arrived roughly 15 to 20 minutes later.
“They identified her, stood her up, got her in the car and got her out of there instantly,” said Kasinskas, who works at Louisiana Pacific in Hayward. His wife is a teacher at Northwood High School.
Jayme went missing on Oct. 15, when her parents, James and Denise Closs, were both found shot to death in their rural home.
Barron County Sheriff Department deputies arrived at the Closs home within 4 minutes of a 911 call but found no suspects or gun at the scene and no sign of Jayme. Investigators could hear yelling in the background of the recorded 911 call, but nobody conversed with dispatchers.
Within three days after Jayme went missing more than 400 tips were received, but none at that time led to her location, and no viable suspects were identified.
Two months after Jayme had been missing, Fitzgerald said the lack of evidence seemed to suggest that the killer or killers didn’t get far in the home as investigators had not recovered any DNA evidence, or fingerprints, nor did they find shoe prints inside the home.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, Fitzgerald took to Facebook to dispel a rumor that Jayme had been found in Walworth County, where a large police presence related to a separate criminal investigation was being live-streamed by local media.
"We want to thank the Douglas Co Sheriff’s Department and agencies assisting them tonight,” Fitzgerald said Thursday. “We also want to thank all the law enforcement agencies across the state and county that have assisted us in this case. We also could not have endured this case without the support of the public and I want to thank them for all the support and help.
"This case has been very trying on the family so please respect their privacy ..." Fitzgerald said.
Reflecting on the events from the night before, Kasinskas said it was difficult to comprehend.
“Honestly, there was so much adrenaline. It was almost like a fog,” Kasinskas said. “When you see a ghost. It’s hard to wrap your mind around that.
“It’s pretty hard for the community right now, because everybody feels so safe here. We don’t lock our doors or anything, ever. Now, I think that’s going to change.”