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US man pleads guilty to kidnapping girl and killing her parents

The 13-year-old victim was held captive in a remote cabin for three months.

Jake Patterson
Jake Patterson
Image: Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP

A WISCONSIN MAN has pleaded guilty to kidnapping a 13-year-old girl and killing her parents.

The guilty plea means Jayme Closs, who was held captive in a remote cabin for three months, won’t have to testify at the trial.

Jake Patterson (21) yesterday pleaded guilty to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping.

As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped a count of armed burglary.

Patterson faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on 24 May; Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.

As he left the courtroom, Patterson turned back and said, ‘Bye Jayme’. His victim wasn’t present.

Patterson had said he would plead guilty in a letter sent earlier this month to a Minneapolis TV station, saying he didn’t want the Closs family “to worry about a trial”.

He admitted kidnapping Jayme after killing her parents, James and Denise Closs, on 15 October last at the family’s home near Barron, about 145km northeast of Minneapolis.

Jayme escaped in January after 88 days in Patterson’s cabin near the small, isolated town of Gordon, almost 100km from her home.

The plea, coupled with an earlier decision by prosecutors not to bring charges in the county where Jayme was held, increases the chances that the details of her time in captivity will remain private.

Defence lawyer Richard Jones told Judge James Babler Patterson “wanted to enter a plea from the day we met him” and dismissed strategies presented to him, including trying to suppress his statements to investigators.

“He rejected all that and has decided this is what he wants to do,” Jones said.

Members of the Closs family and Patterson’s father and sister all left the courthouse without commenting.

School bus

According to a criminal complaint, Patterson told authorities he decided Jayme “was the girl he was going to take” after he saw her getting on a school bus near her home.

He told investigators he plotted carefully, including wearing all-black clothing, putting stolen licence plates on his car and taking care to leave no fingerprints on his shotgun.

Jayme told police that on the night of the abduction, the sound of the family dog’s barking awoke her and she went to wake up her parents as a car came up the driveway.

While her father went to the front door, Jayme and her mother hid in the bathroom. Patterson shot Jayme’s father as he entered the house, then found Jayme and her mother.

He told detectives he wrapped tape around Jayme’s mouth and head, taped her hands behind her back and taped her ankles together, then shot her mother in the head. He told police he dragged Jayme outside, threw her in the boot of his car, and took her to his cabin, court documents stated.

Authorities searched for Jayme for months. On 10 January she escaped from the cabin while Patterson was away. She then flagged down a woman who was walking a dog and pleaded for help. Patterson was arrested minutes later.

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