Sheriff Grapples With the 'Million Dollar Question'

Authorities are trying to piece together the Jayme Closs kidnapping
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2019 1:45 PM CST
Why Jayme Closs' Alleged Kidnapper Shaved His Hair
This Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 photo shows Jayme Closs, right, with her aunt, Jennifer Smith in Barron, Wis.   (Jennifer Smith via AP)

With Jayme Closs safely in the arms of her family, investigators are trying to figure out exactly what happened and why. "Well, right now we're looking for 88 days of evidence," says Barron County Sheriff Christopher Fitzgerald, per CNN. "So, we're looking for receipts, where the suspect may have been over the last 88 days." Law officers have arrested Jake Patterson, 21, for allegedly kidnapping the 13-year-old Wisconsin girl and murdering her parents on October 15, but otherwise little is known about his motive or treatment of Closs since she escaped captivity and was found Thursday. "I don't understand it yet myself," says Fitzgerald. "That's the million-dollar question, is why." What has emerged:

  • Patterson's hair: It was "a very well-planned attack," per Fitzgerald. He says Patterson shaved off his hair to avoid leaving strands behind.

  • The shotgun: Several guns have been recovered in the investigation, including a shotgun likely used to shoot open the Closs family's front door and kill Denise Closs, 46, and James Closs, 56. "We believe Jayme was the target, and [Patterson] was getting rid of possible barriers to taking her," says Fitzgerald.
  • The motive: There's no apparent evidence that Patterson knew Jayme. He did work three years ago at the Jennie-O Turkey Store plant in Barron where Jayme's parents worked, but quit after one day, saying he was moving away. "We don't know if he was stalking her or what," Jayme's grandfather, Robert Naiberg, tells the Chicago Tribune. "Did he see her somewhere?" Jayme apparently told the FBI she didn't know Patterson in the least.
  • Jayme's "hell": No one is pushing Jayme to reveal details of her ordeal, says Naiberg, which meshes with the advice of doctors and other experts. "She is going to have to grieve the loss of her parents and also come to terms with the fact she was abducted, escaped and whatever (other) hell she went through," a former kidnapping victim tells the AP. "And it's not going to be easy."
  • Her emotions: Jayme's emotions were "pretty flat" when she was found, said Peter Kasinskas, who saw the girl when a neighbor spotted the bedraggled teen and knocked on his door, per the Star-Tribune.
  • Her recovery: "Jayme had a pretty good night sleep it was great to know she was next to me all night what a great feeling to have her home," Jayme's aunt, Jennifer Smith, wrote Saturday on Facebook. "As a family we will get through all of the healing process Jayme has."
  • The cabin: The remote cabin where Patterson allegedly held Jayme underwent a title change eight days after the kidnapping, WEAU13 reports. According to records, Jake Patterson's father transferred it to the Superior Choice Credit Union on Oct. 23. The property's appraised value was $79,300.
  • The attorneys: Patterson's attorneys say they consider Jayme's kidnapping "very tragic" and hope the courts will treat their client with fairness. He will likely be charged and appear in court Monday.
(See what Closs' family had in store after she was found.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.