The man suspected of kidnapping a Wisconsin teenager and killing her parents with a shotgun nearly three months ago appears to have led an unremarkable existence until that fateful night, blending into the state’s vast northwestern forests. Jake Thomas Patterson grew up in Gordon, a sprawling township of 645 people tucked into the snowy evergreen forests about 35 miles south of Lake Superior. The few neighbors who know Patterson’s family say he grew up in a cabin in a remote development and graduated from high school only three years ago. Jayme Closs, 13, has told authorities since her escape on Thursday that she was held captive at that same remote woodland cabin after her abduction in October from her family home in Barron.
Authorities believe Patterson went to the Closs home intending to kidnap Jayme. But they haven’t been able to find any connection between him and the Closs family. The girl’s grandfather, Robert Naiberg, insisted Saturday that none of them know him. Investigators say they’ve found no evidence of any online conversations between the Patterson and Jayme. Patterson’s parents divorced in 2008, according to online court records. Neighbor Daphne Ronning told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the parents moved away but that Patterson and his older brother, Erik, continued to stay in the cabin. She said she and her husband once caught them siphoning gas. Another neighbor, Patricia Osborne, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the brothers often got into trouble. She said they stole things and spent time in foster care. (See a new photo of Jayme after her return.)