Jake Patterson Sentenced to Life in Prison for Kidnapping 13-Year-Old Jayme Closs and Murdering Her Parents

Public defender Richard Jones, right, comforts Jake Patterson after he pleaded guilty Wednesday in Barron County Circuit Court to kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and murdering her parents, James and Denise Closs, at their home in October 2018. (Photo: T’xer Zhon Kha, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

The man who kidnapped 13-year-old Jayme Closs and murdered her parents will spend the rest of his days in prison without a chance for parole.

Jake Patterson, who turns 22 on June 17, was sentenced in Barron County Circuit Court on Friday for abducting the Barron teenager and gunning down James and Denise Closs. His sentencing hearing comes two months after he pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping.

Patterson didn’t know the Closs family, nor did he have a prior criminal record in Wisconsin. But in the early hours of Oct. 15, he fatally shot James Closs, 56, through a glass pane on the front door of their home and murdered Denise Closs, 46, in front of her only child. He then dragged Jayme to his car and drove her to the rural Douglas County town of Gordon, where he held her for 88 days.

In an emotional hearing Friday, Jayme’s relatives spoke through tears as they told Judge James Babler of the fear and heartache Patterson caused them. For months, they didn’t sleep as they wondered what happened to Jayme.

Meanwhile, loved ones grieved the unexpected loss of James and Denise.

“I still think I’m going to wake up someday and this is going to be a bad dream,” said Kelly Engelhardt, James Closs’ sister.

Relatives also recounted how Denise Closs spent her final moments, barricaded in a bathroom to protect her daughter after hearing the gunshot that killed her husband.

“I have terrible nightmares,” said Jennifer Smith, Jayme’s aunt and guardian. “Jayme was my sister Denise’s whole world. I can’t imagine how scared she was.”

Jayme was not in the courtroom Friday, but an attorney read a statement on her behalf. She told the judge she felt safe in her home until Patterson took that and her parents away from her. Now she can’t see her home or belongings without remembering that dark night. She struggles with anxiety when she’s out in public.

“I love my mom and dad very much, and they love me very much,” she said. “They did all they could to make me happy and protect me. He took them away from me forever.”

Throughout the hearing, Patterson occasionally shifted in his chair and hung his head but showed little emotion, even as District Attorney Brian Wright recounted his grisly crimes in detail. His first emphatic reaction to the proceedings was a vigorous head shake “no” when Wright said Patterson would find Jayme if he gets out of prison.

Before the judge brought down his sentence, Patterson spoke briefly, choking up and saying he would do anything to take back what happened.

“I don’t care about me,” he said. “I’m just so sorry.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Haley BeMiller