BARRON, Wis. (Reuters) – A Wisconsin judge sentenced Jake Patterson to the maximum sentence of life imprisonment on Friday for kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and murdering her parents, describing him as “one of the most dangerous men to walk the planet.”
FILE PHOTO: Jake Patterson, 21, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and murdering her parents, appears via live video from jail, wearing an orange jumpsuit, during his first court appearance in Barron, Wisconsin, U.S., January 14, 2019. Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune/Pool via REUTES/File Photo
Barron County Circuit Court Judge James Babler said Patterson, 21, was a danger to society due to his fantasies of “taking multiple girls, and killing multiple families” and he could never be released from prison.
Babler sentenced Patterson to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment, without eligibility for release, plus a 40-year sentence for Closs’ abduction.
“Mr. Patterson, you initially murdered two innocent parents, parents trying to protect their daughter,” an emotional Babler said in his sentencing statement, describing the former cheese factory worker as “the embodiment of evil.”
Patterson, 21, in March admitted to committing the October killings and abduction in Barron County, Wisconsin. He told investigators Closs “was the girl he was going to take” after he saw her get on a school bus.
“Because of this monster, Jayme won’t have her mom and dad at her dance recitals,” Mike Closs, Jayme’s uncle, said in court.
Following the hearing, Closs’ aunt Jennifer Smith said the family was satisfied with the sentence and knew it would give Jayme peace.
“She lives in fear, doesn’t have a normal 13-year-old life, and that’s all from what you did,” Smith told Patterson in court. “I won’t let you destroy our family no more. We can be happy.”
Patterson, with close-cropped hair and dressed in an orange prison uniform, sat with his head down most of the time. But he shook his head on two occasions. The first was when Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright said he remained a threat to Jayme. The second was when Babler said, based on a statement Patterson made in his jail cell, that he had fantasies of kidnapping and killing multiple people.
Patterson’s defence lawyer said “a lifetime of social isolation” led him to commit the crimes.
Patterson expressed his regret in a mumbling statement.
“I would do absolutely anything, I would die, I would do absolutely anything to bring them back,” said Patterson, provoking his father to break down in tears in the courtroom. “I don’t care about me, I’m just so sorry.”
Patterson carefully planned the crime, according to police, visiting the Closs family twice before he pulled into their driveway in the early hours of Oct. 15.
Dressed in black with a face mask, Patterson shot Closs’ father through the front door with a shotgun, according to the criminal complaint.
He broke down the bathroom door where Closs and her mother were hiding, bound the girl with duct tape, then shot her mother. He put Closs in the trunk of his car and drove to his cabin in Gordon, about 60 miles (97 km) north of Barron, according to police.
Patterson, described by his lawyer as “a quiet man,” kept Closs locked in his room and barricaded her under his bed when he had guests, according to court documents.
On Jan. 10, when Patterson left the cabin, the girl escaped. A dog walker found her, neighbours called 911 and police subsequently arrested Patterson.
“This case was about the courage and bravery of a 13-year-old girl,” said Wright following the sentencing. “We are proud of you, Jayme.”
Reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Scott Malone, Susan Thomas, Dan Grebler and Jonathan Oatis