Authorities have identified the suspect in the kidnapping of Jayme Closs and the murder of her parents as Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, of Gordon.
Patterson was being held Friday at the Barron County Jail on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping.
He was arrested Thursday after Jayme escaped from a home in the Town of Gordon and gave Douglas County authorities a description of Patterson's vehicle.
Patterson was arrested without incident, Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec said at a news conference Friday morning.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Jayme was the target of the crime and that Patterson took steps to avoid being detected by law enforcement and the public.
Jeanne Nutter was walking her golden retriever Henry around a roughly two-mile loop of cabins near her home when she saw a young girl walking toward her wearing shoes too big for her, a sweatshirt and leggings.
"She said, 'Please help me. I don't know where I am. I'm lost,'" Nutter told WPR.
Nutter said it became clear as the girl came closer that she was Jayme, the 13-year-old girl that had been missing since her parents — James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46 — were found dead Oct. 15 at their home in Barron.
"I said, 'Don't ask me any questions. Just call 911 because I have Jayme,'" Nutter said.
The Kasinskas called 911 and wrapped Jayme in a blanket. When asked how the girl was doing, Nutter said, "She's a child who's been traumatized."
Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec previously told WPR that Jayme was found between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday in the Town of Gordon, which is about 45 minutes southeast of Superior and an hour north of Barron.
The investigation of the killings and apparent abduction drew in members of the FBI and thousands of civilian volunteers who showed up to help search the area surrounding the Closs home.
The Investigation Continues
Eighty-eight days. That's how long Jayme was missing for.
Since Oct. 15, law enforcement officers have been weeding through tips and claims that Jayme had been seen.
Sheriff Fitzgerald said his head was "spinning" at points from tips that were coming in from other parts of the state and sometimes the country.
The kidnapping garnered national attention and at one point there was a tip that Jayme was spotted in Miami, but that was quickly dismissed. The Town of Gordon wasn't even on law enforcement's radar, Fitzgerald said.
So what changed the case and brought Jayme home? Jayme.
"That is the will of a kid to survive. It’s the unthinkable," Fitzgerald said at Friday's press conference. "It's amazing the will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape, and that comes from the hope and the prayers and this community."
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office received the 911 call at about 4:30 p.m. from the Kasinskas household, Dalbec said, and deputies "immediately" responded "en masse" to the home.
Using Jayme's description of the vehicle, a "short time later" an officer located Patterson's vehicle "down the road" and Patterson was taken into custody, Dalbec said.
At the Friday morning news conference, law enforcement heads from the Douglas and Barron County sheriff's offices and FBI stressed the investigation is ongoing, and that interviews with Patterson and Jayme are underway.
"This is a very active and fluid case, we are actively serving search warrants right at this moment in Gordon, in other areas for vehicles, looking for evidence," Fitzgerald said Friday morning.
Fitzgerald said investigators are seeking answers to several questions, including what happened in the last three months, why Patterson targeted Jayme and if the two knew each other.
Patterson planned the crime and took "proactive" measures to hide who he is, law enforcement said Friday. It's unclear if the two were in one area the entire time.
It's not known how Jayme was confined to the residence or how she was able to escape on foot, Fitzgerald said.
Patterson, who does have a tie to Barron County, has no criminal history locally or in Wisconsin, Fitzgerald said. The sheriff didn't say what the tie to Barron County is.
There are no other suspects in the case and no one else was at the home Jayme escaped from, Fitzgerald said.
A news conference is planned for 4 p.m. Friday where more details are said to be shared.
The Barron County district attorney plans to file a criminal complaint with charges against Patterson next week.
"It is our job in prosecuting this case to obtain justice for James, Denise and Jayme Closs, and we will do so," said Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright.
Jayme has been medically cleared after being held overnight at a hospital in the Twin Ports, and is being interviewed by law enforcement before she is reunited with family Friday in Barron, Fitzgerald said.
While Jayme was missing, the small town community rallied for the 13-year-old's discovery.
On Friday, the Barron Area School District Superintendent Diane Tremblay gave emotional remarks, saying the last few months have been filled with prayers and maintaining hope for Jayme's return home.
"Most importantly, we want to thank Jayme for being so courageous and achieving an opportunity to find her way back to us, what an extraordinary young lady," Tremblay said.
"Jayme, we missed you and we are so grateful you are home," Tremblay later said, holding back tears.
Robert Naiberg, Jayme's grandfather, said he received a call late Thursday that he'd been praying for, informing him his granddaughter had been found alive.
Talking with ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday morning, Jen Smith, the girl's aunt, said her niece was being treated at a hospital on Thursday.
On Thursday night, Lacey Naiberg, a cousin of Jayme's, thanked law enforcement and the community for support. In a Facebook post, Lacey Naiberg said "there are no words to describe" the feeling of having so many people come together to help. She asked people to continue to pray for "Jayme's well-being and our families healing."
All I Wanted To Do Is Get That Kid Safe'
Nutter, the woman Jayme approached Thursday, is familiar with working with children and has a history working with child protective services in Dane, Clark and Eau Claire counties. She worked for the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families until she retired as a regional supervisor working on special needs adoptions.
Nutter said Jayme appeared "calm" and that everyone did a great job, including the dispatcher and law enforcement who arrived later to help. She didn't know how long it took for a sheriff's deputy to arrive, but Nutter said it "felt like days."
While they waited, Jayme petted the neighbors' dogs and Nutter's dog, Henry. Nutter said they just wanted to try to keep her comfortable.
"I just kept telling her, 'Everything is going to be OK,'" said Nutter.
The retired child protection worker didn't want to ask Jayme any questions because she didn't want to further traumatize the girl and knew law enforcement would have questions of their own.
"All I wanted to do is get that kid safe," she said.
Nutter said Jayme was likely in shock, and so were they. "I think we were just so amazed that she was alive," she said.
Nutter said Jayme is an amazing kid to have survived.
"I just did what I would expect any human being to do — to take care of a child," she said.