‘Embodiment of Evil’: Jayme Closs’ Kidnapper Sentenced to Two Life Terms

By Pilar.Melendez@thedailybeast.com (Pilar Melendez)
Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune/Pool via REUTERS

Jayme Closs, the Wisconsin 13-year-old who was kidnapped for over three months in October after her parents were murdered, had a message for the courtroom at her abductor’s Friday sentencing hearing: “Jake Patterson will never have power over me.”

Patterson was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus forty years with no possibility of parole on Friday for abducting the teenager on October 15, 2018, and holding her hostage for 88 days after killing her parents at their home in Baron. Before giving Patterson his sentence, Barron County Judge James Babler called the 21-year-old “the embodiment of evil.”

“I would do absolutely anything to take back what I did, I would die, absolutely anything to bring them back,” Patterson said on Friday, holding back tears. “I don’t care about me, I’m just so sorry.”

The sentence comes two months after Patterson pleaded guilty to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping as part of a deal with the Barron County District Attorney’s Office.

“Last October, Jake Patterson took [my parents] away forever,” Jayme said in a victim statement read by her attorney in court Friday. “There are some things Jake Patterson can never take away from me. He can’t take away my freedom. I will always have my freedom and he will not”

Jake Patterson Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping Jayme Closs, Killing Her Parents

Five other members of Jayme’s family spoke at the hearing, which the teenager did not attend, urging Judge Babler to give Patterson the maximum sentence. Patterson was seen shaking his head from side to side throughout the victim statements.

“Jake Patterson will never have power over me,” Closs said in her statement. “I feel like I have power over him, because I get to tell the judge what I think should happen to him. He should stay locked up forever.”

Jennifer Smith, the teenager’s aunt and legal guardian, said in her victim statement that the family is distraught over the situation and lives in constant fear.

“She lives in fear. She doesn’t have a normal 13-year-old life and that’s all from what you did. It’s heartbreaking. We now live in fear,” Smith said.

According to a criminal complaint, Patterson decided Jayme Closs “was the girl he was going to take” after he saw her boarding a school bus near her home about four hours outside of Madison. To ensure a successful abduction, the complaint said, Patterson wore all-black clothing and put stolen license plates on his car.

Closs told police the family dog’s barking woke her up that night, and she went to wake up her parents when she noticed a car coming up the driveway. While her dad went to the door, the complaint states, Jayme and her mom decided to hide in the bathroom.

Kidnap Suspect Jake Patterson Allegedly Hid Jayme Closs Under His Bed for Hours at a Time

Patterson admitted to first fatally shooting James Closs, the teen’s father, before searching the house for Jayme and her mother, Denise. The 21-year-old then fatally shot Denise in front of Jayme before throwing the teenager in the trunk of his car and driving to his remote home in Gordon, which is about an hour north.

“I’m at peace that my brother did not suffer,” Mike Closs, the brother of James Closs, said in his victim statement on Friday. “But I’m mad as hell he didn’t have a chance. [Denise] didn’t die in vain, she died protecting Jayme.”

He held Closs hostage in his cabin for 88 days, often forcing the teen to stay under his bed for hours when he had friends over. To keep her from trying to escape, Patterson warned Closs that “bad things could happen to her,” if she moved, according to the complaint.

On January 10, Patterson told the teenager he was leaving for a few hours. Closs told police she took the rare opportunity to successfully push away the weighted bins that her kidnapper had used to block her under the bed.

“He thought that he could own me, but he was wrong. I was smarter,” Jayme said in her Friday victim statement. “I watched his routine and took back my freedom. Jake Patterson can never take away my courage. He thought he could control me, but he couldn’t.”

Wisconsin Teen Jayme Closs Found Alive: ‘The Girl Just Came Out of the Woods’

Closs told investigators she escaped wearing a pair of his Nike shoes and began walking aimlessly when she eventually ran into Jeanne Nutter, a social worker who was walking her dog. Nutter immediately recognized the teenager and called the authorities. The teenager is now living with her aunt and uncle.

Patterson’s attorney, Charles Glynn, told Judge Babler on Friday that his client has taken responsibility for his crimes and “severely over reacted to his loneliness.”

In a letter to local Minnesota TV station KARE-TV in February, Patterson confessed he had “huge amounts” of remorse for his crimes and said he he intended to plead guilty so the Closs family would not have to “worry about a trial.”

“I can’t believe I did this,” he wrote. “The cops say I planned this thoroughly, and that I said that...straight up lie. This was mostly on impulse. I don’t think like a serial killer. At the time I was really pissed. I didn’t ‘want’ to. The reason I did this is complicated.

Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright urged the judge on Friday for the maximum sentence, calling Patterson a “cold-blooded killer” that will “find Jayme” if he is ever release from prison.

Closs, in her victim statement on Friday, said Patterson’s actions will never stop her from being happy and moving forward while he “stays locked up forever.”

“I feel like what he did is what a coward would do,” she concluded.

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