Former Attorney General Brad Schimel, who led the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s involvement in the Jayme Closs case, says investigators always had reason to believe the 13-year-old was alive.
It’s been two weeks since Jayme made her escape after being held for 88 days. The suspect, Jake Patterson, is accused of killing Jayme’s parents before kidnapping her from her Barron County home.
Almost immediately after James and Denise Closs were found dead and their 13-year-old daughter missing, the Wisconsin Department of Justice was called in to help with the investigation.
“This is truly as bad as it gets for us,” said Judge Brad Schimel, who served as Wisconsin Attorney General at the time of Jayme’s disappearance.
Jayme told investigators she heard sirens just seconds after she was bound and dragged from her home. The suspect, Jake Patterson, even told detectives he yielded to sheriff deputies racing to the Closs home, before continuing on the almost 80 mile drive back to his Gordon home with Jayme in the trunk.
Meanwhile the Barron County Sheriff called in help including the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, which is part of the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
“Within a matter of a couple hours, we can have 40 to 50 agents at a scene of a major investigation,” Judge Schimel said.
CBS 58 investigates sat down with Judge Schimel, who left office just four days before Jayme was found.
“At what point did you stop thinking she might have been killed that night too?” CBS 58 Investigates asked Judge Schimel.
“Well when she didn’t turn up somewhere in a matter of a couple days, then we had great hope,” Judge Schimel said. He adds that after killing two people, taking the teen alive was a liability and only made sense if the suspect intended to keep her.
And the more time passed, the more investigators believed Jayme was still out there, especially after hunting season, when thousands of people take to the woods and no one found anything.
“We believed somebody was holding her, which is not good,” Judge Schimel said. “We knew that meant this was a very difficult life for her but alive is a very good thing.”
Meanwhile on Friday, Mark Fruehauf, the Douglas County District Attorney. said he does not anticipate filing charges against Patterson for crimes committed during Jayme’s captivity.
In a statement Fruehauf said, “A prosecutor’s decision whether to file criminal charges involves the consideration of multiple factors, including the existence of other charges and victim-related concerns.”
Patterson already faces two counts of first degree intentional homicide in Barron County—which each carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release.
“I’m assuming the charges brought here will be efficient and he won’t’ see the light of day again, I hope,” said Rep. Romaine Quinn, R-Barron.
Rep. Quinn says throughout the Barron community there is both the relief and grief.
“The hard part for our community is a lot of us have cabins in Gordon or around Gordon or that’s where we all go to deer hunt and gosh, she’s 3 miles from where we visit,” Rep. Quinn said.
But Patterson wasn’t on anyone’s radar. He picked Jayme at random, which Schimel says is rare. And, he has no criminal record.
“That is common, that individuals who prey on children don’t have a lengthy history, criminally, that we didn’t hear of them before,” Judge Schimel said. “The ones we know about, we’re keeping our eye on.”
Now the Barron community is focused on keeping an eye on Jayme; making sure she feels their support as she adjusts to her new normal.
“People with that kind of strength of character, we can be hopeful that they can find some degree of healing,” Judge Schimel said.
Patterson will be back in court for a preliminary hearing on February 6.