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Fitzgerald thanks community, releases suspect details in Closs case

BARRON, Wis. (WXOW) – Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said he “couldn’t thank” people enough for their efforts in bringing Jayme Closs home.

Fitzgerald made his comments Friday morning during a news conference in Barron.

He thanked Jayme for her courage, her family, law enforcement, school, and community. “This has been an awesome day.”

Dozens of law enforcement officers and volunteers helped with the search for Jayme since her disappearance October 15.

Fitzgerald said she was taken against her will. She was able to escape Thursday from where she was held in a home near Gordon, in Douglas County.

Fitzgerald said that the case remains an active investigation. Besides the Barron County Sheriff’s Office, he said the FBI, state Department of Criminal Investigation, Wisconsin State Patrol, and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office are all working on the case.

Jake Thomas Patterson

He also gave more information on the suspect who was arrested in connection with the case. Fitzgerald said that 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson is currently in the Barron County Jail on three charges-Two counts of First Degree Intentional Homicide in the deaths of Jayme’s parents, James and Denise Closs, as well as one count of Kidnapping.

Charges against Patterson are likely next week according to Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright. “It is our job in prosecuting this case to obtain justice for James, Denise, and Jayme Closs. We will do so.”

Patterson was arrested in Douglas County after a traffic stop minutes after a 9-1-1 call that said Jayme was found. It came from the woman who found Jayme while walking near Gordon Thursday afternoon.

READ: Woman says missing Wisconsin girl called out to her for help

Douglas County Sheriff Thomas Dalbec said deputies went “en masse” following the call. Patterson was taken into custody down the road from the residence. He said the stop occurred after a patrol sergeant found the vehicle that matched the description Jayme had given of the suspect.

Fitzgerald said that Patterson intentionally did what he did. He said Jayme was his only target. “I can tell you that the subject 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 Wisconsin according to Fitzgerald. He didn’t have any contact with the family said Fitzgerald.

He also said that Gordon was not on investigators’ radar during the search for Jayme.

She underwent a medical and mental evaulation Friday morning at Duluth hospital. Following questioning from law enforcement, she’ll be reunited with family members. Fitzgerald said that would likely happen early Friday afternoon.

“Tears and lots of hugs,” from the family, said Fitzgerald, after they were notified Jayme was found alive and safe.


Watch: Barron Superintendent reacts to Closs return

LISTEN: Jayme Closs’ aunt reacts to her niece being found

READ: Wisconsin couple describes finding Jayme Closs

RELATED: WXOW coverage of the Closs case

MORE: Jayme Closs found alive

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Kevin Millard

Kevin Millard-Social Media Digital Content Manager for WXOW.

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