The man who admitted to killing 13-year-old Jayme Closs’s parents before kidnapping and holding her hostage for 88 days was sentenced to life in prison without parole Friday.
Jake Patterson, 21, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional homicide and one of kidnapping. The bodies of Jayme’s parents, Denise and James Closs, were found in their Barron, Wis., home in October, according to police.
But Jayme was missing.
Three months later, the teen managed to escape the Wisconsin cabin where Patterson kept her hidden after fatally shooting her parents. Soon after, Patterson was arrested and apparently confessed to the killings and kidnapping in a letter purportedly sent by him from jail to a TV reporter.
“I knew when I was caught (which I thought would happen a lot sooner) I wouldn’t fight anything,” the letter says. “I tried to give [police] everything . . . so they didn’t have to interview Jayme. They did anyways and hurt her more for no reason.”
After Jayme was found, authorities described the conditions Patterson kept the girl under and the way she orchestrated her own escape, which The Washington Post reported in January:
The girl told police that Patterson would have her hide under his twin bed, stacking the area around it with tote bags, laundry bins and weights so that he would be able to hear or see if she moved. Police said she told them that “Patterson made it clear that nobody was to know she was there or bad things would happen to her.” Guests had apparently come and gone to his house while she was under the bed, the complaint said.
And he made her stay under the bed when he left the house, sometimes as long as 12 hours with no food, water or bathroom break, the complaint said. He struck her with a hard household object one time when she upset him, threatening that the punishment would be worse if it happened again.
On Jan. 10, Patterson told her he was going to leave the house for five or six hours, the complaint said, making her crawl under the bed beforehand. But after he left, Jayme moved the bins and weights away, put on a pair of his shoes, and walked out toward the road until she found a woman walking her dog. Jeanne Nutter told police that Jayme told her her name during the encounter. “I don’t know where I am,” the disheveled girl told her. “He killed my parents.” And, “Please help — I want to go home.”
A prosecutor said Friday that while imprisoned, Patterson allegedly told Jayme something “really bad would happen” if she tried to flee. They showed images of where she was held and illustrated the terror of her escape.
Patterson appeared to shake his head in disagreement as Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright detailed the nature of his crimes. Wright sought consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
“Mr. Patterson is a coldblooded killer who traumatized a 13-year-old girl for 88 days,” Wright said. “He brutally murdered James and Denise because they stood in the way of his getting away with kidnapping the girl he saw getting on a school bus. A girl whose name he didn’t even know when he kidnapped her.”
Defense attorneys asserted Patterson knew he would be going to jail for the rest of his life, and that he didn’t ask for anything less than that. They argued he’d taken responsibility for his crimes and attempted to mitigate further trauma for Jayme and her family by expediting the case without a trial and further motions.
The defense acknowledged Patterson would likely never get out of prison, but asked that his sentence be designed in a way where he could have “a chance to work on his issues” while incarcerated. They said Patterson needs rehabilitation that is otherwise difficult to accommodate in a prison setting.
While several of her family members testified during the hearing, Jayme, who is in eighth grade, was not present in the courtroom. Wright said she was too traumatized to even attend her parents’ funeral. A letter she wrote was read aloud in court.
“Last October, Jake Patterson took a lot of things that I love away from me. It makes me the most sad that he took away my mom and my dad,” Jayme wrote, according to CNN. She added: “I used to love to go out with my friends. I love to go to school. I love to dance. He took all of those things away from me, too.”
The judge said Patterson was “one of the most dangerous men to ever walk on this planet.”
Patterson, in a final statement before he was sentenced, said, “I would do absolutely anything to take back what I did."
“I would die,” Patterson said, fighting back tears. “ . . . To bring them back. I don’t care about me. I’m just so sorry.”