Missing Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs escaped from a rural cabin Thursday afternoon where she was held after being allegedly kidnapped by 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson, authorities said at a Friday news conference.
Jayme, 13, was found alive in Gordon, Wisconsin, about an hour’s drive north of her hometown of Barron, after a woman walking her dog noticed her.
Authorities located a vehicle Jayme described to them and arrested Patterson shortly after. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said the suspect “planned his actions and took many proactive steps to hide his identity from law enforcement and the general public.”
Patterson had no criminal history in the state and is unemployed. Fitzgerald said the suspect does have some connection to Barron, but did not offer details.
Jayme’s escape came 88 days after she disappeared from the home where her parents, James and Denise Closs, were shot to death on Oct. 15, while the teen was present.
After spotting Jayme in Gordon, the woman, whose name has not been made public, took her to the nearest house and banged on the door for help around 4:30 p.m. local time.
“She kind of flung the door open and said, ‘Call 911, this is Jayme Closs!’” Kristin Kasinskas, a schoolteacher who lives at the house with her family, told KARE 11, a local NBC affiliate. The girl appeared disheveled, wearing shoes that were too big for her.
The Kasinskases offered Jayme food and water, but she declined both, opting instead to meet the family puppy, Penny. Jayme was quiet, but indicated that she had been held at a home close to the Kasinskas residence. Kristin Kasinskas’ husband, Peter, described the girl’s affect as “pretty flat.”
“She didn’t express any fear fear,” Kristin said, per KARE 11. “She didn’t say that she was afraid this person was coming after her.”
Jayme was taken to a hospital and held overnight on Thursday, but has been cleared by medical professionals, according to Fitzgerald.
The area where Jayme was found is a rural collection of about 30 homes originally built in the 1960s as cabins, according to the Star Tribune. The homes are set back from the road or obscured by trees, and the paper noted that they are mostly unoccupied during the winter months.
Law enforcement fielded 3,500 tips from across the country on Jayme’s whereabouts with assistance from the FBI. Barron authorities organized several ground searches for Jayme immediately after her disappearance, and issued an Amber Alert, but she was not seen or heard from until this week.
Earlier, false rumors had circulated that Jayme had been found in a different part of the state, several hours from Gordon.
After Jayme was finally found Thursday, her cousin Tanya Kempton wrote a heartfelt note of gratitude on Facebook.
“Thank you to everyone who helped in the search to help find Jayme! She was finally found tonight,” Kempton wrote. “Lots of happy tears tonight for my family and myself. Our prayers have been answered and its all we could have ever hoped for.”