Pictures of the isolated cabin where a teenage girl was allegedly held captive for nearly three months after her parents were murdered have emerged.
Jayme Closs, 13, was allegedly held captive by Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, at his home in Eau Claires Acres in Gordon, Wisconsin.
Aerial photos show the secluded cabin property surrounded by thick trees and snow as police close in.
This is after Jayme was found skinny, dishevelled and wearing shoes too big for her when she approached a stranger and pleaded for help on Thursday near where Mr Patterson lives.
Mr Patterson was apparently out looking for her when he was arrested and jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said.
Jayme disappeared from her home near Barron after someone broke in and shot her parents, James and Denise Closs, on October 15. The sheriff said investigators believe Mr Patterson killed them in order to abduct the girl.
Teen back with aunt
Jayme is back living with her aunt Jennifer Naiberg Smith, according to a Facebook post featuring the first image of her after her escape.
Ms Smith, who is now the girl’s guardian, wrote Jayme “had a pretty good night sleep” on Saturday.
“As a family we will get through all of the healing process Jayme has. It will be a long road but we are family strong and we love this little girl so much,” she wrote.
The teen’s aunt added the family “will do anything and everything” to keep Jayme safe.
She also included photos of the pair together with Jayme seen smiling.
Her other aunt Sue Naiberg Allard wrote a thank you to everyone who assisted in the search to find Jayme.
She also praised the teen for finding a way to escape.
“You saved your strength, love and power to get home to us,” she wrote.
“I am so thankful for that.”
Jayme’s grandfather Robert Naiberg told the Guardian he spent a few hours with her on Friday but she’s yet to speak about her ordeal.
She hasn’t been pushed to talk either with the FBI and doctors telling the family Jayme will speak about her time in captivity when she’s ready.
Mr Naiberg said the teen was mostly silent when he saw her.
Life of a suspected killer
Mr Patterson appears to have led an unremarkable existence until that fateful night, blending into the state’s vast northwestern forests.
He grew up in Gordon, a sprawling township of 645 people tucked into the snowy evergreen forests.
The few neighbours who know Mr Patterson’s family say he grew up in a cabin in a remote development that’s a mix of seasonal and year-round homes about 16 kilometres outside Gordon proper.
Mr Patterson’s high school teachers barely remember the now 21-year-old man who graduated only three years ago, and say they didn’t realise he still lived in the area.
Jayme has told authorities since her escape on Thursday that she was held captive at that same remote woodland cabin after her abduction in October from her family home in Barron.
Authorities believe Mr Patterson went to the Closs home intending to kidnap Jayme. But they haven’t been able to find any connection between him and the Closs family.
The girl’s grandfather insisted on Saturday that none of them know him, raising questions about how Mr Patterson became aware of Jayme. Investigators say they’ve found no evidence of any online conversations between the two.
His parents divorced in 2008, according to online court records. Neighbour Daphne Ronning told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the parents moved away but that Mr Patterson and his older brother, Erik, continued to stay in the cabin. She said she and her husband once caught them siphoning gas.
Another neighbour, Patricia Osborne, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the brothers often got into trouble. She said they stole things and spent time in foster care.
The development was sealed off by police on Saturday, preventing reporters from knocking on neighbours’ doors. No telephone listing could be found for Ms Ronning, and Ms Osborne declined to comment before hanging up.
The Journal Sentinel reported Saturday that Mr Patterson wrote in a school yearbook about his plan to join the US Marine Corps following graduation, but The Associated Press has been unable to confirm if he followed through.
“I have no clue who they are,” a local business owner said of the Patterson family.
Northwood Superintendent Jean Serum called Mr Patterson a “quiet, good student who had wonderful friends and a supportive class,” but said she had no real memories of him.
Kristin Kasinskas, one of the neighbours who took Jayme in after her escape last week, told The Associated Press that she was Mr Patterson’s middle school science teacher. She said she didn’t really remember anything about him except that he was quiet.
He worked for a day in 2016 for the Jennie-O turkey plant in Barron before he quit, saying he was moving out of the area, according to Jennie-O President Steve Lykken. It’s unknown what he has done for a living since then.
Sheriff Fitzgerald said he was unemployed when officers arrested him.
The suspect has no apparent online presence. It appears he has been living in the family cabin; property records indicate his father still owned the place in October. But he has kept a low profile. Ms Kasinskas told The Star Tribune that she didn’t even realise he was her neighbour.
Mr Patterson has no criminal history in Wisconsin but his brother has had multiple run-ins with the law, including convictions for marijuana possession, bail jumping and sexual assault, online court records show.
Sheriff Fitzgerald hasn’t said whether Jayme was sexually assaulted but said that investigators believe Mr Patterson acted alone.
Despite Erik Patterson’s criminal record, few across the township seem to have heard of his family.
James Kuffel, the township’s lone constable, said he knows almost everyone in the area but has never encountered the Pattersons.
One of the businesses closest to the development is J&K’s Halfway House Bar and Grille. Owner Karen Beeler said she’s run the place for 22 years and had never heard of the family before Mr Patterson was arrested.
“I have no clue who they are,” she said.
– with Associated Press