Guilty pleas from man who kidnapped Jayme Closs, killed her parents

Guilty pleas from man who kidnapped Jayme Closs, killed her parents

© Star Tribune/Star Tribune/Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Trib In February, Jake Patterson appears for a brief hearing in Barron County Circuit Court in Barron.

Barron, Wis. — The 21-year-old Wisconsin man accused of kidnapping Jayme Closs pleaded guilty Wednesday to abducting the teenage girl and fatally shooting her parents.

Jake T. Patterson, of rural Gordon, was charged with murder, kidnapping and burglary in the Oct. 15 slayings of James and Denise Closs and the abduction of their 13-year-old daughter, who was held captive for 88 days before escaping from Patterson’s cabin about an hour north of Barron in January.

The plea deal also stipulates that Patterson will not be charged with any offenses in Douglas County, where he held Jayme, and dismisses the burglary count against him.

By pleading guilty, Patterson spares Closs and her family the painful ordeal of enduring a lengthy jury trial.

Judge James Babler scheduled sentencing for May 24, blocking out the entire afternoon of court time.

During a hearing that lasted nearly 20 minutes, Babler received one-word answers from Patterson to a series of routine questions affirming his desire to plead guilty.

One of Patterson’s attorneys, Richard Jones, told the judge that “we are satisfied that this is knowing and voluntary. Mr. Patterson has wanted to enter a plea from the day we met him, and we wanted to consider our own due diligence. We wanted to read the discovery and go through all the details,” but have been unable to do so.

Jones added that Patterson was briefed about all of his options, “including a court trial and a jury trial. We’ve discussed all of that with him, and he’s rejected all of that, and he’s decided that this is what he wanted to do. He’s been consistent with that. We’ve gone back and forth on what we suggested he do or give us time to do.”

Babler went on to explain to Patterson that his sentence for the crimes could lead to life in prison for the killings of Jayme’s parents and up to 40 years in prison for kidnapping the girl.

As each count was read by the judge and Patterson entered his plea, Patterson choked back tears as he said “guilty.” At times, it took him many seconds to get the word out.

Patterson walked into court with a smile and a slight nod to his family before sitting between his attorneys, Jones and Charles Glynn. As he was led from the courtroom by a guard at the end of the hearing, he turned and said, “Bye, Jamie.”

Neither the Closs nor Patterson relatives who attended the hearing commented on the plea afterward.

Patterson had indicated in a letter to a KARE 11 television reporter earlier this month that he had intended to plead guilty. He said in the letter that he had “huge amounts” of remorse for the crimes he allegedly committed.

He also wrote that he didn’t want Jayme’s family “to worry about a trial.”

Patterson is accused of breaking into the Closs home in the early morning hours of Oct. 15 and killing the Closses with blasts from a shotgun. He then threw Jayme in the trunk of a car, according to police, and drove about 70 miles north to his family’s remote cabin in Gordon.

There, he kept Jayme imprisoned under a bed for nearly three months. She finally broke free after he left her alone on the afternoon of Jan. 10 and she stumbled upon a neighbor walking her dog, who helped alert police.

Patterson was arrested within minutes, and he later confessed to the killings and kidnapping, according to court documents.

‘We want it to end’

Heading into Wednesday’s hearing, the jubilation that accompanied Jayme’s escape in January had largely faded, replaced by a deep anger toward Patterson and a fervent wish for the case to be over.

“We want it to end,” Patty Borgen said Tuesday as she sipped a drink with friends at a local pub.

It was a sentiment echoed by many in this small Wisconsin town, about 90 miles northeast of the Twin Cities.

Many here hoped that he would plead guilty to the brutal crimes to spare Jayme, her family and the community of 3,400 residents the pain of reliving Oct. 15 during a drawn-out trial.

“He took something from this community that didn’t belong to him,” Denise Grueneberg said Tuesday. “And it had a ripple effect through the whole community.” • 612-673-7402


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