Jake Patterson, the 22-year-old man serving a life sentence for holding Jayme Closs prisoner in his home for 88 days after murdering her parents, told investigators that if he had not taken the teenager, it “would probably be someone else.”
New documents, including partial transcripts of Patterson’s initial investigation with officers after Closs escaped in January 2019, paint a disturbing picture of a man who was admittedly “basically lost.” Patterson told investigators that after floating through a series of dead-end jobs, he decided he would “take a girl.”
The transcript also reveals chilling details of what Patterson did to “pump himself up” before carrying out the heinous act with a 12-gauge shotgun. He had chosen Closs, 13, after seeing her get on a school bus and had previously “chickened out” in attempting to kidnap her from her family home. But on Oct. 15, 2018, he found the twisted gumption to do it.
“I put that gun, my shotgun in my mouth,” he told police. “I was telling myself you know either I’m going to die or they are.”
He shaved his head and beard to avoid leaving any forensic evidence and drove from his home in Gordon, Wisconsin to the Closs home in Barron after putting a stolen license plate on his vehicle. When he saw Jayme’s father James Closs through the window, he shot him.
He detailed how he then found Jayme and her mother Denise hiding in the bathtub in the home. By then Denise had called 911 and time was running short.
“And then, I kinda, I grabbed the gun ... I pointed it at Denise, just shot it like right in the head,” he told police according to the transcript. “I didn’t even look when I did it. Like I looked away.”
He then tied up Jayme and told her to get up and leave. “Just walk. Just walk,” he said he told her. “And it’s like I already forgot that her legs were tied or whatever. I was dragging her. And then I just dragged her out of the house. Um, I remember I stepped on James’ blood and slipped almost or almost slipped. And then, after that, I just dragged her, threw her in my trunk and drove away.”
Also newly revealed in the documents, which are not complete to protect Closs’s privacy, is how close police were to catching Patterson with Closs in his trunk. Police had clocked his car going 54 mph in a 55 zone while he was driving away from the Closs home after the murders, but did not yet know what they would find at the home. Asked what he would have done had he been stopped, he said he would have either killed himself or the cops. “I don’t know exactly,” he said. “I mean honestly I probably would’ve either shot myself or shot the cops. Um, I only had three bullets left, and I knew that.”
Patterson admitted to police that after he killed Closs’ parents, he threatened to kill the young teen if she made any noise or moved to escape. He took her to his cabin and burned her clothing and replaced it with his own. Then he put her on his bed and slept on the couch because he “felt sick” about what he had done. “I just felt so bad like every time I looked her I was like, I can't, like I couldn’t literally couldn't believe that I actually did this.”
Patterson was arrested after Closs escaped the home when he was out. He told officers that he was so sure Closs did not have the courage to escape— because he had “restrained her with fear”—that he did not feel it necessary to put extra locks on doors and windows. Whenever his father visited or he left the home, he said, he tied her up under his bed and blockaded it with boxes and baskets.
“I just trusted her and that she wouldn’t try to get out,” he said, according to multiple media outlets that obtained the documents.
He also said that when she refused to eat or drink, he got angry, telling officers that she “learned quickly” that she had to be nice to him or he would hurt her. While riddled with fear and guilt in the initial days after the murder and kidnapping, he said he soon gained confidence and thought he would “get away with it.” He said he never hit her despite the threats.
“Like at first I would say that, you know you have it really good here, I’m treating you good, and she’d be like yeah okay,” Patterson told police, according to the transcripts. “I was like you could have it a lot worse here.”
Patterson admitted to drinking heavily and said that once when he felt so guilty, he told Jayme she could write a letter to her aunt to let her know she was alive. The letter, he said, was still in the cabin when he was arrested.
Douglas County Corporation Counsel Carolyn Pierce decided to released the partial document cache in accordance with the Wisconsin open record law even though the victim is a minor. She wrote in a four-page letter that the reason to release the records was with “the public interest in treating surviving loved ones of the deceased with respect for their privacy and dignity” and “the fact that the surviving child of the homicide victims is a minor and was subject to abduction and held for a lengthy period of time.”
Pierce said she did not release the full dossier or video. “Further, given the fact that the surviving victim is a minor, concerns for her privacy, dignity as well as the need to avoid further emotional trauma outweighed any legitimate interest in public disclosure of the entire record,” she wrote. “Therefore, the video of that interview is not being released.”
Closs did not attend Patterson’s sentencing but sent a statement through her lawyer. “He thought that he could own me but he was wrong. I was smarter,” it said. “I was brave and he was not… He thought he could make me like him, but he was wrong.”