WISCONSIN — The Wisconsin man who admitted to kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and holding her captive for nearly three months after murdering her parents was sentenced to life behind bars on Friday.
Jake Patterson — wearing an orange jumpsuit, shackled at the midsection — looked down or straight ahead throughout much of the hearing before Barron County Circuit Court Judge James Babler.
“He stole my parents from me. He stole almost everything I loved from me,” Jayme Closs, 13, said in a statement read in court by her lawyer, Chris Gramstrup.
“For 88 days he tried to steal me and he didn’t care who he hurt or who killed to do that. He should stay locked up forever.”
Babler called Patterson “the embodiment of evil.”
“There is no doubt in my mind you are one of the dangerous men to ever walk on this planet.”
Patterson, 21, kidnapped Jayme on Oct. 15 and killed her parents, James Closs, 56, and his wife Denise, 46, with a shotgun before taking the girl to his cabin in the small, isolated town of Gordon, about 60 miles from the Closs home in Barron.
Jayme was forced to live under a bed, which Patterson barricaded with storage boxes and other weights before escaping.
Patterson pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional homicide and one charge of kidnapping. As he left the courtroom that day, Patterson uttered: “Bye, Jayme.”
“He can’t take my freedom. He thought he could own me, but he was wrong,” Jayme said in her statement to the court. “I was smarter. I watched his routine and I took back my freedom. I will always have my freedom and he will not.”
Patterson spoke briefly to the court and apologized.
“I’ll just say that I would do, like, absolutely anything to take back what I did. I would die,” Patterson said, fighting back tears. “I don’t care about me, I just am sorry. That’s all.”
Three aunts, two uncles and cousin of Jayme made emotional victim impact statements on Friday, urging the judge to put Patterson away for life.
The teen’s aunt, Jennifer Smith, said she still suffers nightmares over the murders of her sister and brother-in-law.
“She doesn’t have a normal 13-year-old life,” Smith told the court. “We now live in fear every day, watch our backs, have home security don’t feel safe.”
Lindsey Smith, a cousin of Jayme’s, said she still can’t shake the horrible memory of how the teen’s mom died seeing her daughter being kidnapped.
“No one should leave this earth in such a horrible way,” Smith told the court.
But the girl finally broke free from the house on Jan. 10 after 88 days and flagged down Patterson’s neighbor Jeanne Nutter, who was out walking her dog.
Nutter then took Jayme to the nearby home of Kristin and Peter Kasinskas, pounded on their door, and told them: “This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!”
When he was pulled over by police, Patterson immediately gave up. He told arresting police officers: “I know what this is about. I did it.”
Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright urged Babler not to believe Patterson is remorseful at all and the case was solved because Jayme didn’t obey his commands.
“He got caught because Jayme didn’t follow his rules,” said Wright, who showed the court, in painstaking detail, how Patterson carried out his crimes. “He made it clear that something really bad would happen to her if she did not follow his rules.”
Defense lawyer Charles Glynn said his client is truly sorry and has shown that by pleading guilty to all charges and forgoing a trial, saving the taxpayers millions of dollars and countless hours of potential witnesses.
“Mr. Patterson knows and has accepted that he is going to die in prison. And hasn’t asked us to argue for anything else,” Glynn said.
The killer wrote a letter to NBC affiliate KARE, telling a reporter he’s been cooperative with police so as to spare Jayme from any more questioning. He didn’t, however, fully explain why committed the grisly crime, only saying of his motive: “It’s not black and white.”
He’s told investigators that he targeted Jayme as “the girl he was going to take” after spotting her getting on a school bus near her home, according to a criminal complaint.
Patterson admitted to planning his crime meticulously, wearing all-black clothing, putting stolen license plates on his car and making sure he left no fingerprints on the shotgun he used to kill Jayme’s parents.
Jayme told investigators she woke up early on the morning of Oct. 15 because the family’s dog was barking.
As James Closs went to investigate the car which had rolled up to their driveway, Jayme and her mom hid in the bathtub. James Closs was then killed moments later by a shotgun blast, fired by Patterson, prosecutors said.
Patterson found Jayme and her mom, and taped the girl’s mouth shut and bound her behind her back before gunning down Denise Closs, the teen has said.
At Friday’s sentencing, Jayme’s aunt and James Closs’ sister, Kelly Engelhardt, said Sundays will never be the same. James Closs was ardent Green Bay Packers fan and the family enjoyed their time together, she said.
“None of us are going to win today,” Engelhardt told the court. “None of us are going to get our family members back.”