A Story of Safe Recovery: Jayme Closs Found After 88 Days Missing

Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old girl from Wisconsin who was kidnapped in October 2018, has been found alive. Her community is brimming with support and excitement for the girl. (Photo from Express.)

Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old girl from Wisconsin who was kidnapped in October 2018, has been found alive. Her community is brimming with support and excitement for the girl. (Photo from Express.)

Emily Stocksdale, Editor-in-Chief

It is the stuff of horror movies: Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old girl from rural Wisconsin, was abducted by a stranger after witnessing the murder of both parents, and she was held for 88 days in a remote house in the woods. For months, thousands of law enforcement officers and volunteers searched the state for any sign of the missing girl. Billboards were posted near the highway, seeking information and promising a $50,000 reward for her recovery. Tips and false sightings were called in and handled with care as the search continued. And then, on Thursday, Jan. 10, Closs was discovered–alive–after she managed to escape her captor and find salvation in an unsuspecting dog-walker, Jeanne Nutter, who immediately ran with Closs to the nearest house and told the man who answered the door to call the police.

The details of the crime are as bewildering and unexpected as they are haunting. Closs was chosen at random. She was seen boarding her school bus by the perpetrator,  21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson, while he was on his way to work at a local cheese factory. He later told investigators that he “knew that [Jayme] was the girl he was going to take” as soon as he saw her.

This is not the first time that such a strange incident has happened. In 2002, the case of Elizabeth Smart, who at the age of fourteen was held captive for nine months in Utah, similarly captured the nation’s attention. Nevertheless, this behavior is almost unprecedented as juveniles being kidnapped by complete strangers is a rare occurrence, with one article on the subject stating that less than a quarter of juvenile kidnappings were perpetrated by a stranger. For the most part, juvenile kidnappings are perpetrated by family members or friends of the kidnapped child. But Closs, like Smart, was targeted by a man she had never seen before.

Patterson reportedly drove by the Closs home several times before kidnapping Closs. He had reportedly resolved to kill anyone within the house, so as to avoid witnesses who could impede his efforts. He shaved his head to eliminate possible DNA evidence contaminating the scene, and he wiped down the shotgun shells and the gun which he had taken from his father.

Around 1 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2018, Patterson forced his way into the Closs home and fatally shot her father and mother before taking her. A 911 call was made from the residence by Closs’s mother, and it has since been revealed that police arrived just seconds too late  and that they actually passed Patterson’s car on the drive there. Patterson took the girl to his home, where she was forced to stay.  He kept her in a small room in the basement whenever he had company; it is not clear whether or not she stayed there during the entirety of the time she was missing. She went for periods as long as 12 hours without being allowed food, water or bathroom breaks. On at least one occasion, Patterson hit Closs for attempting to escape.

Eventually, Closs managed to escape the confines of the room where she was being held, pressed up under the bed with boxes and weights piled in front of her, music blaring. Patterson told her that he would be gone for several hours and then left her alone in the house. She pushed her way out from underneath the bed, pulled on a pair of Patterson’s oversized sneakers and ran from the house.

She made it approximately 100 yards before stumbling into Nutter, a retired social worker who was walking her dog around the neighborhood. Closs had made it to safety.

The kidnapper has now been arrested and faces trial for two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, armed burglary and kidnapping. If convicted, he could potentially receive life in prison for his crimes. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.

As for Closs, she has been thrust into national spotlight, as people rejoice over her return. She has been reunited with her aunt and other family members, and is being allowed to give and receive information about the kidnapping at her own pace.