Nearly three months after her parents were found dead in their Wisconsin home, 13-year-old Jayme Closs emerged from the woods, malnourished and dirty with matted hair, and approached a woman walking her dog in a rural community some 70 miles away from the missing teen’s hometown.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald announced early Thursday evening that Jayme was found alive around 4:43 p.m. in Douglas County and that they arrested a suspect in connection with her disappearance just minutes later.
Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, is being held at the Barron County Jail on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and kidnapping. He was taken into custody after Douglas County patrol officers spotted a vehicle and suspect matching descriptions provided by Jayme.
“This case was challenging given the proactive steps the suspect took to avoid detection,” said Justin Tolomeo, special-agent-in-charge of the FBI's Milwaukee division.
“In cases like this we often need a big break and it was Jayme herself who gave us that break.”
Kristin and Peter Kasinskas were at their home in Gordon at the time when a neighbor started to pound on their front door, the Star Tribune reported. They opened it to see her standing alongside a thin girl with shoes too big for her feet.
“This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!” she ordered.
The neighbor, who asked not to be named, told the newspaper she thought she recognized the teen, whose image has been plastered on newspapers and television broadcasts in Wisconsin and beyond. She was walking her dog when Jayme “came up to me and and said she wanted help.”
The Kasinskas said Jayme was quiet and showed little emotion in the 20 minutes or so she spent in their home. She told them she didn’t know where she was, but she was aware her parents were dead and said she’d been abducted. Kristin Kasinskas told “Today” that Jayme didn’t offer any details on where she’d been held, but she “kind of talked about being locked up or hidden.”
The middle schooler had been missing since Oct. 15, the same day here parents, 56-year-old James and 46-year-old Denise, were discovered fatally shot inside their home in Barron.
Authorities responded to a mysterious 911 call, placed around 1 a.m., and found the victims dead on scene. Their daughter however, was nowhere to be found, sparking a months-long manhunt spanning the state of Wisconsin and multiple law enforcement agencies.
Investigators pursued thousands of tips, combed through hours of surveillance video and conducted several searches in hopes of finding the missing teen. The Barron community remained hopeful for Jayme’’s return all the way up until the moment she was found on Thursday, despite not hearing from her for months.
“We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise,” Fitzgerald said in a press release on Thursday. “From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU.”
Jayme was recovering at an area hospital and is slated to be reunited with her family on Friday.