A 21-year-old man has been jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges in the October killing of a Wisconsin couple and abduction of their teenage daughter, who was dramatically found alive on Thursday.
Douglas County Sheriff Thomas Dalbec said at a news conference on Friday morning local time that Jake Thomas Patterson had been arrested a day earlier, after Jayme Closs, 13, was found near Gordon, where Patterson lives.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said investigators believed Patterson killed Jayme’s parents because he wanted to abduct her, and that the suspect “took many steps to hide his identity.”
On Thursday, Jayme walked away from a cabin where she had been held and was helped by a neighbour out walking her dog.
Dalbec says Patterson was arrested based on a description of his vehicle that Jayme was able to provide.
Jayme approached a woman out walking her dog in a neighbourhood, who notified another neighbour to call 911.
The woman — who was the first to encounter the Wisconsin teenager, who vanished after her parents were killed — said the girl called out to her for help, said she was lost and grabbed onto her before telling her who she was.
Jeanne Nutter told The Associated Press her many years as a social worker in child protection helped her keep Jayme calm as they sought help.
The 13-year-old girl vanished October 15 after her parents were fatally shot at their home about 97 kilometres to the south in Douglas County.
Ms Nutter said her goal was to get Jayme to a safe place where the police could be called, so they went to a neighbour’s house.
Abductee Elizabeth Smart said it was a “miracle” the 13-year-old girl missing for nearly three months had been found safe.
Ms Smart was 14 when she was abducted from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. She was rescued nine months later.
She wrote on her Instagram account on Friday she was thrilled Jayme had been found, adding that while the country celebrates this “happy occasion,” the girl’s family should be given “space and privacy on their road to finding a new sense of normal and moving forward.”
Ms Smart said “whatever other details may surface, the most important will still remain that she is alive.”
Jayme disappeared in October after her parents were killed inside their home in Barron, Wisconsin. She was found on Thursday in a town about an hour’s drive north after approaching a woman walking her dog, saying she’d been held against her will.
Kristin Kasinskas said she took Jayme into her home after the girl turned up on her doorstep with Ms Nutter on Thursday afternoon in the small town of Gordon.
Ms Kasinskas said Jayme told her the name of the person who had been holding her captive, saying she recognised the name but did not know the person.
Ms Kasinskas told NBC’s Today Show that Jayme talked about being locked up or hidden when the person had to leave, but that the girl did not explain in detail how she got away.
Peter Kasinskas told Minnesota Public Radio News that Jayme told him she had been abducted, that her parents had been murdered and that she had left a nearby house after she had been left alone.
Jayme’s relieved grandfather received a call late on Thursday informing him his granddaughter had been found alive.
Robert Naiberg told The Associated Press on Friday that his daughter called him with news that the 13-year-old had escaped her captor near Gordon.
Mr Naiberg said Jayme reported that she had been held by “a guy in the woods” but was able to escape.
Investigators confirmed a suspect was in custody on Thursday.
Jayme’s aunt Jen Smith told ABC’s Good Morning America her niece was being treated at a hospital on Thursday.
Investigators are expected to explain how they located a Wisconsin teenager missing for three months alive and took a suspect into custody. Authorities say 13-year-old Jayme Closs was found Thursday afternoon in the Town of Gordon in Douglas County, Wisconsin. A suspect was apprehended minutes later. Jayme was taken to a hospital for an evaluation.