World

Wisconsin man to spend life in prison for kidnapping Jayme Closs, killing her parents

A Wisconsin man will spend the rest of his life in prison for kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents. Jake Patterson, 21, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping.

Jake Patterson gets 2 life sentences without release for homicides, 25 years for kidnapping

Jake Patterson, left, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release for the murders of James and Denise Closs, along with 25 years for kidnapping their 13-year-old daughter, Jayme. (Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP)

A Wisconsin man will spend the rest of his life in prison for kidnapping Jayme Closs, 13, and killing her parents.

Jake Patterson, 21, was sentenced Friday in Barron County. He pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. He admitted to abducting Jayme in October after killing her parents, James and Denise Closs, at the family's home near Barron, Wis., about 145 kilometres northeast of Minneapolis.

Jayme escaped in January from Patterson's cabin near the small and isolated town of Gordon, Wis., some 97 kilometres from her home.

Patterson was sentenced to life in prison without release on each homicide count and 25 years in prison, as well as 15 years of extended supervision on the kidnapping count. The sentences will be served consecutively. Those were the maximum sentences the judge could impose, as Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.

Jayme didn't appear at Patterson's sentencing hearing Friday, 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. "There's no doubt in my mind you're one of the most dangerous men to ever walk on this planet," Babler said.

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 girl he was going to take'

Patterson told authorities he decided Jayme "was the girl he was going to take" after he saw her getting on a school bus near her home, according to a criminal complaint. He told investigators he plotted carefully, including wearing all black clothing, putting stolen licence plates on his car and taking care to leave no fingerprints on his shotgun.

Jayme told police that the night of her abduction, the family dog's barking awoke her, and she went to wake up her parents as a car came up the driveway. While her father went to the front door, Jayme and her mother hid in the bathroom, clutching each other in the bathtub, the shower curtain pulled shut.

Jayme Closs managed to escape from Patterson's cottage on Jan. 10, three months after being kidnapped. (The Associated Press)

Patterson shot Jayme's father as he entered the house, then found Jayme and her mother. He told detectives he wrapped tape around Jayme's mouth and head, taped her hands behind her back and taped her ankles together, then shot her mother in the head. He told police he dragged Jayme outside and threw her in the trunk of his car, the complaint said.

At his cabin, Patterson forced Jayme to hide under a bed when he had friends over and penned her in with tote boxes and weights, warning that if she moved, "bad things could happen to her," according to the complaint. He also turned up the radio so visitors couldn't hear her.

Prosecutors in the county where Jayme was held decided not to bring charges related to anything that might have happened in the cabin, a move that was widely seen as aiming to spare Jayme further pain and keep details private.

Authorities searched for Jayme for months and collected more than 3,500 tips. Jayme escaped on Jan. 10 while Patterson was away and flagged down a woman who was walking a dog. Patterson was arrested minutes later.

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.