Jayme Closs Case: Timeline of Murder, Abduction and Her Miraculous Escape
AFTER PARENTS ARE MURDERED, A TEEN GOES MISSING
The frantic 911 call came in around 1 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2018. But the dispatcher heard only "a lot of yelling," before officers arrived to find parents Denise, 46, and James Closs, 56, shot dead in their Barron, Wisc., home -- and their 13-year-old daughter Jayme, gone. Very quickly they determined the teen was not a suspect. Authorities issued an AMBER Alert and proclaimed Jayme "missing and endangered."
JAYME AND HER MOM WERE 'TWO PEAS IN A POD'
Both Jayme and Denise, pictured at right, were described as quiet, kind, religious and giving, an example of how a loving mom raised her daughter to develop a set of values they shared. “They were just two peas in a pod,” family friend Melissa Salmonson told PEOPLE, describing the pair as “almost inseparable” and saying Denise “was pretty quiet and shy, like Jayme.”
THE SEARCH CONTINUES
For nearly three months, police in Jayme's small-town Wisconsin community kept hope alive for her safe return. Facebook and other social media outlets circulated well-wishes and her photograph. On NBC's The Voice singing competition, Barron-born country artist Chris Kroeze dedicated a song to Jayme, elevating her story to a national audience. Urging others to remain vigilant for any clues to report, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in a statement, "There is a tip out there!"
A DASH TO FREEDOM, AND A STARTLING RESCUE
On the 88th day of her captivity, Jayme's captor left her alone in the remote cabin outside of Gordon, Wisc., where he'd kept her holed up, the sheriff said. Jayme crawled out from under a bed where she'd been ordered to hide, threw on the suspect’s shoes, and without a coat made her escape into the cold, snowy winter. Subsequently, neighbors in the sparsely-populated area, about 70 miles from Jayme's parents' home, suddenly learned the cabin that was largely hidden from the road by trees held the answers to a mystery they'd been following for months.
'I DON'T KNOW WHERE I AM, I NEED HELP'
Jeanne Nutter, at right, a part-time resident of the area with a weekend cabin nearby, was outside walking her dog and spotted the young girl approaching. "When she got near me and I could see who she was, she told me, 'I'm Jayme,'" Nutter said. The teen told her: "I'm lost, and I don't know where I am, and I need help." Nutter observed the girl "wasn't dressed for the weather," and added, "When she told me who she was, I figured she must have left in a hurry."
'THIS IS JAYME CLOSS! CALL 911!'
Nutter didn't waste any time. "I just held onto her and I said, 'We're going to find somebody who's home, we're going to call the police. You're going to be okay, you're going to be safe, you're going to be fine,'" she assured the teen. Racing to a nearby front door, she knocked frantically at the home of neighbors Kristin and Peter Kasinskas, announcing after the door opened, "This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!"
PUPPY BRINGS COMFORT
As she waited for police to arrive, Jayme — whose own dog had been unharmed during the fatal attack on her parents, and was being kept by relatives while the search for the teen continued — played with the Kasinskas' puppy. “She seemed kind of in shock and kind of timid,” Kristin Kasinskas told Today. “It wasn’t like she was scared of us. She wasn’t crying or upset. She was just very calm.”
A 'BADASS' WHO 'SAVED HERSELF'
As word of Jayme's recovery spread, grateful relief mixed with admiration from those who knew her. Jodie Arnold, a cousin of Jayme's mother Denise, credited the teen's "perseverance and will to live," despite Jayme's demeanor as a "very quiet, passive girl," Arnold told PEOPLE. "I was really afraid that if she was being kept captive that it would be really hard for her to leave because you're afraid — and you get, what, one chance to do something like that?" She added: "Jayme is a complete badass. As far as I'm concerned, she saved herself."
KILLER IS IDENTIFIED
Authorities within the hour arrested and later charged Jake Thomas Patterson, then 21, who lived in the Gordon home from which Jayme fled, with one count of kidnapping, one count of armed burglary and two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. A criminal complaint stated he later admitted his guilt, and that Jayme heard the gunshot that killed her father while she and her mother hid in the bathroom. Patterson then broke down the bathroom door, made Denise Closs put tape over her daughter's mouth, then shot Denise in front of Jayme before abducting the girl.
KILLER WAS SEARCHING FOR JAYME WHEN CAUGHT
Patterson had not been on the radar of investigators and had no criminal history in Wisconsin at the time of his arrest in the case, officials said at a news conference. "The suspect was not at home when Jayme escaped," said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. "We believe the suspect was out looking for her when law enforcement made contact with him. He was in his vehicle driving around."
KILLER ALLEGEDLY TARGETED JAYME AFTER SEEING HER BOARD SCHOOL BUS
According to the criminal complaint, Patterson told authorities he'd briefly worked at a cheese factory south of Almena, and on his drive to work one morning, he was stopped behind a school bus on Highway 7 where he spotted Jayme getting on board. "[Patterson] stated he had no idea who she was nor did he know who lived at the house or how many people lived at the house," the complaint reads. "[Patterson] stated, when he saw [Jayme], he knew that was the girl he was going to take."
KILLER SHAVED HEAD PRIOR TO MURDERS TO LIMIT DNA EVIDENCE
As Patterson planned his crimes, he "went to great lengths to prepare to take her," said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. Patterson shaved his head and facial hair prior to the Oct. 15 murders of Jayme's parents to "minimize forensic evidence" from hairs that might be left behind. He also wore two pairs of gloves and wiped down the shotgun and its shells used in the shooting, according to the criminal complaint.
FORCED TO HIDE UNDER KILLER'S BED FOR HOURS
During Jayme's captivity, Patterson routinely ordered her to hide beneath his bed for up to 12 hours at a time without food, water or bathroom breaks, according to the criminal complaint. When he had guests over, he'd turn up the music so she couldn't hear what was happening. To ensure she didn’t leave, he had “stacked totes and laundry bins around the bed with weights (like weights for barbells) stacked against them so she could not move them without his being able to detect if she did,” the complaint states.
KILLER SAID HE'D BE AWAY FOR HOURS — SO JAYME ESCAPED
Jayme told police that “Patterson made it clear that nobody was to know she was there or bad things would happen to her.” The girl “described how, on one occasion, Patterson got mad at her and hit her ‘really hard’ on her back with what she described as a handle for something used to clean blinds and that it hurt really bad when Patterson hit her with it.” But on Jan. 10, he told her he’d be leaving for five or six hours. Jayme told police that once she was certain he’d left, she freed herself from beneath his bed, threw on a pair of his shoes and ran.
OTHER KIDNAP SURVIVORS TO JAYME: 'YOU'RE NOT ALONE'
Other kidnap survivors offered Jayme their support. Elizabeth Smart, 31, at right, who endured nine months of captivity after being abducted from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, wrote on Instagram: "No matter what may unfold in her story let’s all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED and whatever other details may surface the most important will still remain that she is alive." The former Michelle Knight, who was held in a Cleveland home for more than a decade before she was freed along with two other young women in 2013, said Jayme's recovery brought "tears of joy." She offered this advice: "Take time to heal and just know you’re not alone. As long as you have love and support, you can do anything you set your mind to."
JAYME'S HAPPY REUNION WITH DOG AND FAMILY
In the first image of Jayme released publicly to PEOPLE after her rescue, at right, she is all smiles with her dog, Molly, and her aunt Jennifer Smith, who is the sister of Jayme’s late mother, Denise, and will act as the teen's guardian. "She is so glad to be home," family friend Jennifer Halvorson tells PEOPLE. "And she is obviously thrilled to have her dog. Her dog was everything to her. She wanted a dog forever. She had begged and begged [her mother] Denise to get a dog. And finally, Denise caved. That dog was super important to her. She’s glad to have her dog back."
DURING REUNION, 'EVERYONE WAS IN TEARS'
As Jayme at last reunited with her family at her aunt Jennifer Smith's home, "everyone was in tears," says Jayme's cousin, Lindsey Smith (pictured with Jayme, middle, and Cory Sager). She says Jayme is “doing pretty good” since her rescue, but is “still in shock that she’s back home. She’s nothing but smiles. I think it’s just going to be a one-day-at-a-time thing — figure things out as we go. Just make sure she has what she needs.”
JAYME HAD 'GOOD NIGHT' OF SLEEP ON FIRST NIGHT AFTER ESCAPE
“Jayme had a pretty good night sleep,” her aunt Jennifer Smith wrote in a post that was shared by the Facebook group Healing for Jayme Closs. (Smith is pictured at right with her uncle, Steve Naiberg). Smith added: “It was great to know she was next to me all night what a great feeling to have her home.”
UNOPENED CHRISTMAS PRESENTS AWAITED JAYME
Although the Christmas holiday came and went without any signs of Jayme while the search for her continued, Jayme's aunt Jennifer Smith (at right, with Jayme) insisted on keeping the teen’s unopened presents under the tree. “I said, 'These presents are going to sit right here and wait for Jayme to come home,'" Smith told CBS' 48 Hours. "I knew she was close and I never gave up that hope."
FAMILY HAS 'SOME SENSE OF PEACE'
"It will be a long road but we are family strong and we love this little girl so much!!," Jennifer Smith wrote of her niece Jayme (pictured at right, with Jayme's cousin Lindsey Smith). "We will do anything and everything!!" Smith said of her “beloved sister” Denise and brother-in-law Jim, “I keep assuring them Jayme is safe and we will make sure forever." Jennifer Halvorson tells PEOPLE: "I think everyone just finally had a sense of some peace."
KILLER MADE TWO PRIOR ATTEMPTS AT KIDNAPPING
In the criminal complaint against Patterson, authorities revealed that on two prior occasions before Jayme was taken, he drove to her home intent on kidnapping her before deciding it was too risky. On a first attempt, he said he was spooked after seeing a large number of vehicles in the driveway. Days later he returned but backed off again when he "noticed the lights were on ... and people were walking around in the house," the complaint states.
KILLER SAID HE WAS 'HONEST' ON JOB APPLICATION
On the day that Jayme escaped to freedom, Patterson reportedly filled out a job application for a night poisition with Saratoga Liquor Co. in Saratoga, Wisc., according to an online job application obtained by the Associated Press. In the skill section of his resume, he described himself as “an honest and hardworking guy.” He then explained he didn’t have “much experience but I show up to work and am a quick learner.”
A $25,000 REWARD HONORS JAYME'S 'BRAVERY AND STRENGTH'
During the search for Jayme, Turkey products company Jennie-O -- for which both of her parents worked -- offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to her recovery. On Jan. 24, Steve Lykken, the president of Jennie-O Turkey Store, announced that reward would go to Jayme, saying her “bravery and strength have truly inspired our team members around the world.”
KILLER PLEADS GUILTY
In March 2019, Patterson pleaded guilty to charges of intentional homicide and kidnapping.
In return for his pleas to three charges in Barron County, Patterson will not be charged with crimes in Douglas County, where he held Jayme captive.
JAYME FEELING 'STRONGER' EVERY DAY
One year after her abduction, Jayme told ABC News she is feeling “stronger” all the time.
“I really want to thank everyone for all the kindness and concern that people all over the country have shown me," she said in an exclusive statement to ABC News. "I am very happy to be home and getting back to the activities that I enjoy. I love hanging out with all of my friends, and I feel stronger every day!"