Wisconsin Teen Jayme Closs' Bravery Credited for Cracking Missing Person's Case: Sheriff
The missing 13-year-old was found Thursday afternoon, nearly three months after her abduction
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said she survived the traumatic ordeal because of her resolve and bravery. “It’s amazing, the will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape — and that comes from the hopes and the prayers of this community,” he shared. “Thank you to Jayme for having the will to survive.”
Without getting specific, authorities said on Friday that James Thomas Patterson took various steps to avoid detection by law enforcement and the public after the Oct. 15 murders. Patterson, they said, also took specific measures to hide Jayme from his friends.
More information on the murders and abduction would be offered at a press conference set for 4 p.m. local time.
Patterson, who has never before been arrested, was holding Jayme inside the home he was raised in, investigators said Friday. He was apprehended 10 minutes after Jayme reappeared on Thursday.
Authorities believe that Patterson stalked Jayme prior to the murders and say he was arrested Thursday without incident.
He remains the sole suspect in this case.
The woman reportedly brought Jayme to the nearby front door of Kristin and Peter Kasinskas, who opened their front door around 4 p.m. to the sound of frantic knocking from a female neighbor. “This is Jayme Closs!” the woman said, the pair recalled to the Star Tribune. “Call 911!”
Authorities discovered Jayme was missing on Oct. 15 of last year, after her parents — James, 56, and Denise Closs, 46 — were found murdered inside a home on the outskirts of Barron, Wisconsin. Jayme was missing and an AMBER Alert was issued for her.
Her parents had been shot to death and investigators confirmed Friday that Jayme witnessed the killings before being abducted. They said shortly afterward she was not considered a suspect.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Her parents’ bodies were found after police received a troubling 911 call from their home.
Nobody spoke during the 911 call, but a disturbance could be heard. When police subsequently arrived at the family home, they found the parents dead but no sign of Jayme.
According to authorities, Jayme was cleared medically Friday morning, and will be reunited with her relatives later today. The teen will live with her aunt, Jennifer Smith — Jayme’s mother’s sister and legal guardian — a close friend of Jayme Closs‘ aunt told PEOPLE on Friday.
Investigators continue to speak to Jayme, and are still learning more about her frightening ordeal, Fitzgerald said.
Patterson has not appeared in court to enter a plea. It was unclear if he had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.