‘I Can’t Believe I Did This:’ Jayme Closs Kidnapping Suspect Says He’ll Plead Guilty

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
March 8, 2019US News
‘I Can’t Believe I Did This:’ Jayme Closs Kidnapping Suspect Says He’ll Plead Guilty
Jake Patterson appears for his preliminary hearing, at Barron County Circuit Court in Barron, Wis., on Feb. 6, 2019. (T'xer Zhon Kha/The Post-Crescent via AP, Pool)

Jake Patterson, who authorities said admitted to killing the parents of 13-year-old Jayme Closs before abducting the teen, said in a new letter that he plans to plead guilty.

Patterson admitted in the letter, sent to a KARE 11 reporter and published in full by the network, that he did confess to the crimes on Jan. 10, the day Jayme escaped from his home in Gordon and officers arrested him just hours later.

“I knew when I was caught (which I thought would happen a lot sooner) I wouldn’t fight anything. I tried to give them everything,” he wrote. “[I] (wasn’t completely honest) so they didn’t have to interview Jayme. They did anyways [sic] and hurt her more for no reason.”

Asked what his plan is now, Patterson said, “Plead guilty.”

“I want Jayme and her relatives to know that. Don’t want them to worry about a trial,” he said.

missing girl jayme closs
Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old Wisconsin girl, went missing on Oct. 15, 2018. She was found on Jan. 10, 2019. (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
Jayme Closs house in Barron Wisconsin
The home where 13-year-old Jayme Closs lived with her parents, James and Denise, in Barron, Wis., on Oct. 17, 2018. (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP)

Patterson said he planned to enter the guilty plea in a previous court appearance but was advised it wasn’t allowed so he plans to enter the plea on March 27 when he appears again in court.

Patterson said he is remorseful. “Huge amounts,” he said. “I can’t believe I did this.”

He also insisted that the murders and kidnapping were done “mostly on impulse” and that “no one knew,” including none of his family members.

When Patterson would have family members and friends over, he forced Jayme to hide under his bed, according to police. He would shove crates to block her in and place weights on top of the crates. He’d also turn music on so no one could hear her if she made noise.

Jake Patterson's cabin in Wisconsin
The cabin where 13-year-old Jayme Closs was allegedly held by Jake Thomas Patterson is surrounded by law enforcement vehicles in the town Gordon, Wis. on Jan. 12, 2019. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

Patterson said his dad would come to the home every Saturday at the same time; previous reports indicated that other relatives and friends went to the house, including for a gathering on Christmas Day.

Patterson would also force Jayme under the bed when he went out; the day she escaped, he went out for hours.

Patterson concluded with an apology. “No one will believe or can even imagine how sorry I am for hurting Jayme this much. Can’t express it,” he said. “I’m Sorry Jayme! For everything. I know it doesn’t mean much.”

While the letter featured new information from the alleged kidnapper, Patterson stayed vague when asked about a motive. Dr. Michael Thompson, an expert with years of experience giving psychological evaluations for courts, told KARE 11 that wasn’t surprising.

“Offenders like this are usually quite secretive as to their reasons why,” Thompson said. “He’s afraid people won’t understand. And many people won’t.”

Jake Thomas Patterson mugshot
Jake Thomas Patterson, who has been jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges in the October 2018 killing of a Wisconsin couple and abduction of their teen daughter, Jayme Closs. Jayme was found alive in Gordon, Wis., on Jan. 10, 2019. (Barron County Sheriff’s Department via AP)
jayme closs and grandfather
Jayme Closs, 13, and her grandfather Robert Naiberg enjoying a meal on Feb. 3, 2019. (Light the way home for Jayme/Facebook)

Thompson said it’s impossible that Patterson didn’t plan the murder and kidnapping.

The impact of the letter on sentencing wasn’t clear; recently, experts indicated that Patterson likely wouldn’t be able to use an insanity defense.

“This crime is so despicable it’s almost impossible for an insanity defense to work here,” Jack Levin, a longtime criminologist and a professor emeritus at Northeastern University in Boston and co-director of the university’s Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict, told the Appleton Post-Crescent.

The confession that police outlined in a report described Patterson spending time planning the abduction after spotting Jayme boarding a school bus. He attempted the kidnapping twice before finally going through with it.

Defendants who try for the insanity defense have to convince a jury that they were suffering from mental illness at the time of the crime and try to prove that the illness prevented them from obeying the law.

Greg O’Meara, a former Milwaukee County prosecutor who worked on the case against serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who tried and failed to use the insanity defense, said that Patterson didn’t appear to be insane.

“You don’t win these cases very often,” he said. “The degree of planning shows (Patterson) in control.”

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