Jayme Closs' Kidnapper Pleads Guilty to Abducting Wisconsin Teen, Killing Her Parents
The man accused of holding 13-year-old Jayne Closs hostage for 88 days after killing her parents last October entered a Wisconsin court Wednesday and pleaded guilty to charges of intentional homicide and kidnapping.
In return for his pleas to three charges in Barron County, Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, will not be charged with crimes in Douglas County, where he held Jayme captive.
The two intentional homicide charges, in the killings of Jayme’s parents Denise and James Closs, carry a life sentence in prison as part of the plea deal. The kidnapping charges carries a 40 years maximum sentence. Patterson will be formally sentenced on May 24.
In a halting voice when asked by the judge how he wanted to plead to the charges, Patterson said three times: “Guilty.”
Patterson’s defense attorney Richard Jones said in court: “He has always been consistent in his statements and his beliefs that this is exactly what he wants to do. …. This is his choice. … This is what he wants. It is free, knowing and voluntary.”
The subject of a high-profile search after the murders, the missing Jayme was recovered January 10 after she broke free from the cabin outside of Gordon, Wisconsin, where Patterson allegedly kept her after fatally shooting her parents, Denise, 46, and James, 56, on October 15 in the family’s home in Barron, nearly 70 miles away.
Patterson allegedly has confessed to the crimes, according to a criminal complaint earlier obtained by PEOPLE.
The complaint alleges Patterson targeted Jayme, whom he did not know, after he spotted her getting on a school bus. It alleges he made two attempts to kidnap her prior to October 15, but backed off until his third attempt, when he allegedly shot Jayme’s father at the front door, then confronted Jayme and her mother hiding in a bathroom, where he shot the mother and bound the teen with tape before dragging her into the trunk of his vehicle.
At his Gordon cabin, according to the complaint, Patterson allegedly sometimes ordered Jayme under the bed for as long as 12 hours at a time — depriving her of food, water or bathroom breaks. Around Christmastime, Patterson allegedly went away to visit his grandparents while the girl hid under the bed, afraid to move.
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“When he left the house, the defendant stated he would tell [Jayme] that she better not leave and told her bad things would happen if she tried,” the complaint alleges. “The defendant stated she knew she shouldn’t come out from under the bed when he was not there. The defendant stated that because of his anger outbursts [Jayme] complied and did as she was told.”
On the day Jayme escaped, Patterson had left her alone with a warning to stay under the bed, the criminal complaint alleges. But after Patterson left, Jayme fled the cabin and encountered a woman out walking her dog, who then raced Jayme to a neighbor’s home from which police were called.
The complaint also states that Patterson allegedly told detectives he “put quite a bit of thought into the details of how he was going to abduct” Jayme.
It alleges Patterson told police he assumed he “had gotten away” with his crimes two weeks after the killings. He allegedly said he only learned Jayme’s name when he got her back to his home, and only learned the names of her parents from local news coverage of their murders.
“The defendant states he never would have been caught if he would have planned everything perfectly,” the complaint alleges.
Since his first court appearance on January 14, Patterson has been jailed on a $5 million bond.
His public defenders, Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, did not comment after that first court appearance, but in an earlier joint statement said: “This is a very tragic situation. There is a substantial amount of information, interest, and emotion involved in this case. Mr. Patterson’s legal team will be relying on the integrity of our judicial system to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected and respected.”
PEOPLE has been unable to reach the two lawyers for additional comment.