Nearly seven months ago, Jake Thomas Patterson was sentenced to life without parole for the abduction of then-13-year-old Jayme Closs and the murder of her parents, James and Denise Closs.
But a transcript released Friday of Patterson being questioned shortly after his Jan. 10, 2019 arrest provides new insights into the crime and his motivations.
Patterson said he was working a two-day temporary job at Saputo Cheese in Almena, Wisconsin, when he first saw Closs getting onto a bus in October 2018 and began to obsess about the idea of kidnapping her and holding her prisoner.
On the night of Oct. 15, 2018, Patterson said he finally decided to act on his fantasy, but before leaving his house, he did something "to pump myself up."
"I put that gun, my shotgun in my mouth," he said. "... I was telling myself you know either I'm going to die or they are."
He drove from his house in rural Gordon to the Closs home in Barron with a stolen license plate affixed to his vehicle. As he approached the house, Patterson said he cut his lights and engine, then coasted down the driveway.
Patterson said he had paid a couple previous late-night visits to the home but "chickened out."
On the 15th, however, his resolve was stronger. He shaved his head and beard to avoid leaving any genetic evidence. "I was kinda like, I was telling myself like I have to do this. Like, once they see me, to at least having a chance of getting away with it."
Patterson, who was carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, said he was dressed all in black with a ski mask and gloves. He saw James Closs through a window and shot him.
He said he proceeded to shoot the locked door and then kick it in.
Denise and Jayme locked themselves in the bathroom and called 911, as Patterson proceeded to knock that door in as well.
Patterson said they were hiding in the bathtub. He grabbed the phone away from Denise and threw it. He then handed Denise a roll of duct tape and told her to tape her daughter's mouth. Unsatisfied with the job, Patterson said he taped Jayme's mouth, hands and feet himself.
"And them, I kinda, I grabbed the gun ... I pointed it at Denise, just shot it like right in the head. I didn't even look when I did it. Like I looked away," Patterson said. He explained that he had decided in advance he could leave no witnesses to the abduction.
He then told Jayme: "Just walk. Just walk. And it's like I already forgot that her legs were tied or whatever. I was dragging her. And then I just dragged her out of the house. Um, I remember I stepped on James‘ blood and slipped almost or almost slipped. And then, after that, I just dragged her, threw her in my trunk and drove away," Patterson said.
Patterson got in his vehicle and pulled over to let three police cars go by before returning to his home in Gordon.
Patterson was asked what he would have done had he been stopped by the authorities that night. He replied: "I don't know exactly. I mean honestly I probably would've either shot myself or shot the cops. Um, I only had three bullets left, and I knew that."
Back home in Gordon, Patterson said he left Closs on his bed and slept on a couch.
Patterson said he experienced a deep sense of remorse the following morning. "I just felt so bad like every time I looked her I was like, I can't, like I couldn't literally couldn't believe that I actually did this."
Patterson said he had fantasized about kidnapping a young teenage girl since his discharge from the Marines for medical reasons, after less than three months as an enlistee. But he never acted on those ideas before taking Closs and killing her parents.
In time, Patterson predicted he would have attempted an abduction, regardless, saying: "If it wasn't Jayme, it would probably be someone else."
Patterson said Closs asked him how long he intended to hold her and recalled telling her that he would not kill her and intended to let her go "like in a year or something."
In the nearly three months Closs remained Patterson's prisoner, Patterson said he went for walks with her in his yard, where they also played catch with a baseball and occasionally played badminton. He also described playing board games and watching television with Closs.
At one point, after about two months in captivity, Patterson said he let Closs write a letter to her aunt to let her know she was alive and had thought about dropping it at her driveway, but he never did deliver it.
Patterson said Closs knew he had a bad temper and that she shouldn't cross him. But he said he never resorted to physical violence with her. "Like I, I actually never, the entire time never hit her once."
Patterson said that during Closs' 88 days in captivity he came and went from his home repeatedly, putting Closs under his bed and barricading it with baskets and weights. He didn't lock her in the house and suspected she might be able to get out but counted on fear to keep her from attempting to escape.
Occasionally, Patterson would leave Closs for extended periods, as long as 12 hours at a time.
"I just trusted her and that, she wouldn't try to get out. Like this is the only, today was the only day she ever tried to get out," Patterson said on the day of his arrest Jan. 10. That day, he had driven to his mother's home in Haugen to search online for a job and returned to find Closs gone. Police arrested him in his car shortly thereafter.
Often on Saturday nights, Patterson's father would come to visit the house, and Patterson would again put her under his bed and told her she had it pretty good and "could have it a lot worse here." During these visits, Patterson said he would often leave a radio on in his room to drown out any noise Closs might make and to make it difficult for her to hear what was going on elsewhere in the house.
Patterson worked occasional odd jobs but largely subsisted on the $100 per week his father gave him for food.
Patterson said he followed news accounts of Closs' abduction and over time grew more confident that he would continue to elude authorities.
"After a while I thought, well I could get away with this. I mean, I understand how when there's no connection, a person has no connection to someone, how that's f---ing almost impossible to solve, or really hard to solve," he said.
Douglas County Corporation Counsel Carolyn Pierce was responsible for reviewing and authorizing the release of information from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Clerk of Courts, in accordance with the Wisconsin Open Records Law.
Pierce wrote in a four-page letter that her office had to balance the public’s right to access records with “the public interest in treating surviving loved ones of the deceased with respect for their privacy and dignity” and “the fact that the surviving child of the homicide victims is a minor and was subject to abduction and held for a lengthy period of time.”
“Given this individual’s tender age and considering and respecting her privacy and dignity outweighed any legitimate interest in public disclosure” of certain information including Jayme’s interview, medical records, photographs and other personally identifying information," Pierce wrote.
The release includes reports from deputies who responded to the Gordon residence, where Closs escaped and ran to the safety of Patterson’s neighbors. Much of the file consists of a transcribed interview with Patterson. Redacted in spots, Douglas County released only a written transcript and not the video recording.
“It was determined that the public interest in treating the surviving loved ones of the homicide victims with respect for their privacy and dignity outweighed any legitimate interest in public disclosure of some of the information contained in the record.
“Further, given the fact that the surviving victim is a minor, concerns for her privacy, dignity as well as the need to avoid further emotional trauma outweighed any legitimate interest in public disclosure of the entire record. Therefore, the video of that interview is not being released," Pierce said.