Jake Patterson: Wisconsin man pleads guilty to kidnapping Jayme Closs and shooting her parents

Chris Riotta

Jake Patterson has pleaded guilty to kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs, killing her parents and holding her captive in a remote cabin for three months.

The 21-year-old pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. A count of armed burglary was dropped. The intentional homicide counts carry a sentence of life in prison.

Patterson had said he would plead guilty in a letter sent earlier this month to a Minneapolis TV station, saying he didn’t want the victim's family “to worry about a trial.”

He admitted to kidnapping the young girl after killing her parents, James and Denise Closs, on 15 October at the family’s home near Barron, about 90 miles (145 kilometres) northeast of Minneapolis. She escaped in January, after 88 days in Patterson’s cabin in near the small, isolated town of Gordon, some 60 miles (97 kilometres) from her home.

According to a criminal complaint , Patterson told authorities he decided she “was the girl he was going to take” after he saw her getting on a school bus near her home.

The victim told police that the night of the abduction, the family dog’s barking awoke her, and she went to wake up her parents as a car came up the driveway. While her father went to the front door, she and her mother hid in the bathroom, clutching each other in the bathtub, with the shower curtain pulled shut.

They heard her father get shot. Patterson then found her and her mother. He told detectives he wrapped tape around the girl's mouth and head, taped her hands behind her back and taped her ankles together, then shot her mother in the head. He told police he dragged the victim outside, threw her in the trunk of his car, and took her to his cabin, the complaint said.

During the victim's time in captivity, Patterson forced her to hide under a bed when he had friends over and penned her in with tote boxes and weights, warning that if she moved, “bad things could happen to her.” He also turned up the radio so visitors couldn’t hear her, according to the complaint.

Authorities searched for Jayme for months and collected more than 3,500 tips. On 10 January, the victim escaped from the cabin while Patterson was away. She then flagged down a woman who was out walking a dog and pleaded for help. Patterson was arrested minutes later.

The Associated Press contributed to this report