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Wisconsin man sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping 13-year-old and killing her parents

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

Image: Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP, Pool

A MAN HAS been sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs in Wisconsin and killing her parents after the girl told the judge she that wanted him “locked up forever”.

Wisconsin man Jake Patterson (21) pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. He admitted he broke into Jayme’s home in October, gunned down her parents, James and Denise Closs, made off with her and held her under a bed in his remote cabin for 88 days before she made a daring escape.

Jayme didn’t appear at Patterson’s sentencing hearing yesterday but a family attorney read her first public statements about her ordeal to Judge James Babler.

“He thought that he could own me but he was wrong. I was smarter,” the statement said.

“I was brave and he was not… He thought he could make me like him, but he was wrong.

For 88 days he tried to steal me and he didn’t care who he hurt or who he killed to do that. He should be locked up forever.

The judge called Patterson the “embodiment of evil” before sentencing him to consecutive life sentences without the possibility of release on the homicide charges.

He also ordered Patterson to serve 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision on the kidnapping count.

“There’s no doubt in my mind you’re one of the most dangerous men to ever walk on this planet,” Babler said.

Do anything

Patterson sat shaking his head during most of the hearing. Offered a chance to speak, he said he would do anything to take back what he did.

I would die,” he said. “I would do absolutely anything… to bring them back. I don’t care about me. I’m just so sorry. That’s all.

The judge read statements that Patterson wrote in jail in which he said he had succumbed to fantasies about keeping a young girl and torturing and controlling her.

He started looking for an opportunity to kidnap someone, even deciding he might want to take multiple girls and kill multiple families, according to the statements.

Jayme was the first girl he saw after these thoughts entered his mind, he said.

Patterson’s lawyers, Richard Jones and Charles Glynn, told the judge that Patterson was isolated and that he overreacted to loneliness. They asked for leniency for Patterson, noting that he had pleaded guilty to spare Jayme and her family from a trial.

According to a criminal complaint, Patterson was driving to work in October when he spotted Jayme getting on a school bus near her rural home outside Barron, about 145 kilometres northeast of Minneapolis in Minnesota.

He decided then that “she was the girl he was going to take”.

District Attorney Brian Wright told the judge that Patterson traveled to the Closs home on two separate occasions to kidnap her but turned back because of activity at her house.

Shooting

He finally drove to the house during the early morning hours of 15 October dressed in black and carrying his father’s shotgun. He shot James Closs through a window in the front door, blasted the lock and moved inside.

He found the bathroom door locked. He broke the door down and discovered Jayme and her mother clinging to each other in the bath. He tied Jayme up with tape, then shot Denise Closs in the head as she sat next to her daughter.

He dragged Jayme through her father’s blood and out to his car. He threw her in the boot and drove her to his cabin in Gordon in Douglas County, about 97 kilometres northeast of Barron.

He kept her trapped under a bed using totes filled with weights and hit her with a curtain rod, Wright said.

“He kept her in constant fear, threatening her, telling her things would get worse,” Wright said.

Jayme finally escaped on 10 January while Patterson was away. She flagged down a neighbour, who found someone to call police. Patterson was arrested minutes later as he returned to the cabin.

Patterson was also ordered to register as a sex offender, which under Wisconsin law may be required both for an actual sex offence or an attempted sexual offence. Details of Jayme’s time in captivity have not been released, and no charges were brought by prosecutors in the county where she was held.

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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