Jake Patterson, the 21-year-old Gordon, Wisconsin man accused of abducting teenager Jayme Closs, who staged a daring and dramatic escape from a Northwoods cabin, is from a family with long ties to the area.
Authorities have not implicated any of Jake Thomas Patterson’s family members in connection with Jayme’s abduction. Instead, the Barron County Sheriff has said that he believes Patterson took pains to conceal his actions.
A neighbor who helped rescue Jayme says the girl told them she didnât know Patterson and added that Patterson âwould sometimes have people over and hide her so they wouldnât see her,â KTSP-TV reported. The Today Show reported that Jayme also said that she was âlocked up or hidden when this person had to leave.”
However, some members of Patterson’s family – notably his brother, Erik Patterson, and their father, Patrick Patterson – have been named in various news stories because of the brother’s criminal history and the father’s real estate transfer involving the cabin where Jayme was held.
So far, authorities say, Jake Patterson is their only suspect in the bizarre story. Patterson is sitting in the Barron County Jail on two charges of murder and a charge of kidnapping. Authorities say he shot open the door of the Closs family home in Barron in the early morning hours of October 15, 2018 with the intention of taking Jayme, 13. He’s accused of shooting her father, James Closs, to death in the doorway and her mother, Denise Closs, elsewhere in the house, before spiriting the teen to the family-owned cabin about an hour away in Gordon.
An Amber Alert was issued and a massive search launched, but, for almost three months, no one caught on, until Jayme managed to escape her kidnapper’s clutches and rush into the arms of a nearby dog walker, who brought her to safety. Authorities say Jake Patterson was out looking for her when they stopped and arrested him. Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald now says that Jake Patterson’s main target was Jayme, not her parents, but he’s indicated that authorities aren’t sure how the girl got on his radar at all because they can’t find any contact or connection between Jake Patterson and the Closs family, save for the fact he worked at the same turkey plant as the parents for about a day three years ago. However, the sheriff said there’s no sign he met them while there.
Here’s what you need to know about Jake Patterson’s family:
1. Father Patrick Patterson Transferred Cabin Ownership to a Credit Union
The Associated Press reported that the ownership of the cabin where Jayme was held “passed to a credit union soon after the girlâs abduction.” It had been owned by Patterson’s father but he transferred the nearly $80,000 cabin to Superior Choice Credit eight days after Jayme disappeared. The AP reported that the nature of the transfer is not clear.
Wisconsin court records do not show a criminal history for Patrick Patterson, whose full name is Patrick Michael Patterson.
Adam Wilson, who owns a cabin nearby, described the Patterson family as “low key,” and told Fox 6 Milwaukee, “They were super nice. Very generous. Welcomed me to the neighborhood, said if I ever need anything — tools or anything — I could come down, knock on the door and ask.”
Gordon, where Jayme was found, was not an area of focus for searchers. According to KARE 11, Jayme was found at Eau Claire Acres, “a small development about six miles east of Gordon, Wisconsin on Highway Y.” It’s a rural area clustered with cabins.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin also confirmed that she was found in the Town of Gordon, a community of 645 people, saying in a statement, “The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office confirms that Barron County missing person JAYME CLOSS was located alive in the Town of Gordon in Douglas County at 4:43pm and a suspect was taken into custody at 4:54pm, also in the Town of Gordon.”
2. Brother Erik Patterson’s Criminal History
Court records do not show a previous criminal history in Wisconsin for the unemployed Jake Thomas Patterson, who also had no obvious social media presence. The sheriff confirmed that Patterson has zero criminal history in Wisconsin or elsewhere.
Patterson’s 24-year-old older brother, Erik Patterson, whose Facebook page said he’d moved to Colorado and worked at Subway, has a criminal history for fourth-degree s3xual assault and felony drug dealing, Wisconsin court records show. Sheriff Fitzgerald said in a January 11, 2019 press conference that authorities are aware of that history and are looking into it, although, again, it should be emphasized that authorities are saying that Jake Patterson is the only suspect.
“We did get a tip on a sibling that has some criminal record,â said Sheriff Fitzgerald at the news conference. âOur DCI and FBI teams are looking into that. I didn’t look into his record. That just came in on our tipline.â Fox 9 reports that Erik Patterson once lived in the cabin where Jayme was held.
According to Fox 6, the s3xual assault conviction came about when Erik Patterson was accused “at the age of 18, for having s3x with a 16-year-old girl.” According to Fox 9, in that case, Erik Patterson, then 18, “drove from Gordon to Buffalo City, nearly three hours away, to meet a 15-year-old girl and have s3x with her.” Court records say they met on an “an online chat site,” and Erik claimed he thought she was 17. He had maps, clothes and a police scanner in his car, Fox 9 reports. His probation was later revoked in that case, Wisconsin court records show.
In 2014, Erik Patterson was convicted of two felony counts of marijuana dealing and a misdemeanor bail jumping charge. He gave his address as S. Eau Claire Acres Circle, Gordon. He received probation with a withheld sentence. There was a probation review hearing in the case in 2016. As a condition of bond in that case, the court ordered, “Do not use or possess any controlled substance or drug paraphernalia without a valid prescription.”
Wisconsin court records show he was sentenced to community service on a misdemeanor criminal damage to property case in 2014. However, the community service was terminated, a stayed jail sentence was revoked, and the case was sent to collections.
In 2012, he was found guilty of county ordinance possession of marijuana, per court records.
His Facebook page mostly contained photos that showed him with his girlfriend or enjoying the outdoors. It’s now been deleted.
He had worked at a Subway store in Leadville, Colorado.
3. Parents’ Divorce
Online records show the Patterson parents divorced in 2007. At the time of the divorce, the father gave his address as S. Eau Claire Acres Circle, which is the area surrounding the cluster of cabins where Jayme was found. The court records show that the mother, then named Deborah Patterson, and Patrick Patterson, were joint petitioners in the divorce and gave her address as Minong, another small town not far from Gordon. That’s the town where Jake Patterson attended high school at Northwood School. The court records indicate there was a marital settlement agreement in the case.
The mother’s name is now Deborah Frey. Jake Patterson also has a sister.
On social media, Patterson’s mother mostly posted positive things about her family. On Facebook, she posted one photo of herself with a bow and arrow, writing, “Life is Beauty & Full!!! Do what you love; love what you do!” She also posted religious and inspirational graphics on Facebook. “Real men love a very real God…” she wrote with one post. She’s since deleted her Facebook page. One for Jake Patterson could not be found.
The photo at the top of this article is from Jake Thomas Pattersonâs motherâs Facebook page in 2015. On the comment thread under it, a friend wrote, âVery nice pic!! Is Jake leaving soon?â His mother responded then, âAs of now, August 17th is when he leaves,â but it wasnât clear what she was referring to.
4. A Neighbor Says She Had a Problem With the Patterson Boys Years Ago
Neighbor Daphne Ronning told USA Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “Patterson’s parents moved to the home about 15 years ago and that Jake and his brother were raised there.”
She told the newspaper that the parents moved to a different home, but Jake Patterson and his brother stayed in their childhood residence.
“We had some problems with them when they were teenagers – we caught them siphoning gas,” Ronning said to the newspaper. “My husband talked with them and there was never anything else.” Although the brother’s Facebook page says he moved to another state, it’s not clear whether he returned.
5. Authorities Say Jake Patterson Carefully Concealed His Actions
Although he’s left almost no online footprint and few deep impressions on those who knew him casually, Jake Patterson is accused of carefully eluding capture from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for almost three months, managing to leave behind little trail and allegedly spiriting a traumatized teen into a remote cabin while her picture was blasted across the country via heavy news media attention and an Amber Alert.
âI can tell you the suspect planned his actions and took many proactive steps to hide his identity from law enforcement and the general public,â District Attorney Brian Wright said.
According to the sheriff, Patterson is accused of taking steps to change his physical appearance, âlike shaving his head not to leave hair behind.”
The suspect was not home when Jayme escaped. âWe believe the suspect was out looking for her,â the sheriff said, when authorities found him. âI know all of you are searching for the answer of why any of this happenedâ¦so are we,â said Fitzgerald.