Kidnapping Survivor Jayme Closs ‘Enjoying Dance, School Activities’ Two Years After Daring Escape
The Wisconsin teen managed to flee Jake Thomas Patterson’s remote cabin after he held her captive for 88 days.
Two years have passed since Jayme Closs managed to escape the man who killed her parents before abducting and holding her captive for 88 days in a remote Wisconsin cabin, and now the 15-year-old is “doing good” and she and her loved ones “take life day by day,” her aunt has revealed in a new statement posted on Facebook.
“She is enjoying dance, school activities and many other things as much as is possible in regards to now dealing with the COVID restrictions,” Jennifer Naiberg Smith, who is also Closs’ guardian, wrote in the statement obtained by LaCrosse’s WLAX.
Following the horrific ordeal, Closs has been “surrounded by lots of loved ones,” noted her aunt, who then shared an important reminder: “Never take life for granted.”
Just before 1 a.m. on October 15, 2018, Closs’s mom, Denise, called 911. Dispatch call logs show no one spoke but a disturbance could be heard in the background. By the time deputies arrived at the Closs’ home in Barron, Denise and her husband, James, had been fatally shot and their daughter had vanished without a trace, CNN reported.
Over the next nearly three months, thousands of law enforcement officials and volunteers searched for the missing girl. Finally, on January 10, 2019, Closs was found alive in Gordon, a small town around 65 miles north of where she was abducted.
In a criminal complaint filed by the Barron County District Attorney’s Office and obtained by NPR, a woman told police that while out walking her dog she saw Closs, who yelled and begged for helped and said a man, identified as Jake Thomas Patterson, “had killed her parents and she wants to go home.”
According to the complaint, Patterson, now 23, was arrested and admitted to fatally shooting Closs’ parents.
Patterson allegedly explained to investigators that while on his way to work one day, he observed Closs getting on a school bus. “The defendant stated he had no idea who she was…[but] when he saw [Jayme] he knew that was the girl he was going to take,” the complaint reads.
Closs told police, in part, that during her time imprisoned in Patterson’s cabin, her captor would have her hide under his twin bed and would surround it with tote bags, laundry bins and lifting weights so he could detect if she moved.
According to the complaint, Patterson made “her stay under the bed when he left the house,” often for as long as “up to 12 hours at a time with no food, water or bathroom breaks.”
The day Closs escaped, Patterson told her he would be away for five or six hours. When he was gone, the teenager told authorities she was able to push the bins and weights away from the bed, put on a pair of Patterson’s shoes, flee the house and alert Patterson’s neighbor that she needed help.
In March 2019, Patterson pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and two counts of intentional homicide. A judge later sentenced him to life in prison without parole.