After Jayme's safe return, question is: Why was she targeted?

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Jayme Closs (right) with her aunt, Jennifer Smith
This Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 photo shows Jayme Closs (right) with her aunt, Jennifer Smith, in Barron, Wis. Jayme returned to her family on Friday after being held captive for nearly three months.
Jennifer Smith via AP

The grandfather of a northwestern Wisconsin girl who was abducted during a home invasion that left her parents dead said Saturday that the family has no connection to the suspect and doesn't understand why he targeted her, deepening a mystery that has captivated the region for months.

Someone blasted open the door of James and Denise Closs' home near Barron in October, gunned the couple down and made off with their 13-year-old daughter, Jayme Closs.

Jayme was missing for nearly three months until Thursday, when she approached a stranger in the small town of Gordon, about an hour north of Barron, and pleaded for help. Officers arrested 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson minutes later based on Jayme's description of his vehicle. He was jailed on suspicion of kidnapping and homicide.

• Earlier: Jayme Closs emerged from woods, asked dog walker for help

Investigators have said Patterson's goal was to kidnap Jayme, but he appears to have no connection to the family. Jayme's grandfather Robert Naiberg said in a telephone interview Saturday that the only thing the family knows for sure is no one knew Patterson. He said that Jayme told FBI agents she didn't know him at all.

"He didn't know Jayme, he didn't know Denise or Jim," Naiberg said. "(Jayme) don't know him from Adam. (But) he knew what he was doing. We don't know if he was stalking her or what. Did he see her somewhere?"

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald speaks at a news conference.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald speaks at a news conference on Jayme Closs, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. The missing 13-year-old girl was found alive Thursday. "When it confirmed that it was her, my legs started to shake. It was awesome," he said.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The news that Jayme was safe set off joy and relief in her hometown of Barron, population 3,300. The discovery ended an all-out search that gripped the state, with many people fearing the worst the longer she was missing.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said investigators are trying to figure out what happened to Jayme during her captivity and why she was seized, and gave no details on how she escaped except to say Patterson was not home at the time. He said there is no evidence Patterson knew Jayme or her family or had been in contact with her on social media.

"I know all of you are searching for the answer why any of this happened," Fitzgerald said. "Believe me, so are we."

Property records show that the cabin belonged to Patterson's father at the time of Jayme's disappearance.

Jake Thomas Patterson.
This photo provided by the Barron County Sheriff's Department in Barron, Wis., shows Jake Thomas Patterson, of the Town of Gordon, Wis., who has been jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges in the October killing of a Wisconsin couple and abduction of their teen daughter, Jayme Closs. Closs was found alive Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in the Town of Gordon.
Barron County Sheriff's Department via AP

The sheriff said that he did not know whether Jayme had been physically abused.

Naiberg, Jayme's grandfather, said he spent a few hours with her on Friday. No one pressed her to talk, he said, adding that FBI agents and doctors advised them to let her speak when she's ready. He said she was largely silent and did not talk about how Patterson had kept her confined.

Patterson was scheduled for an initial court appearance Monday. It was not immediately known whether the unemployed Patterson had an attorney. Prosecutors anticipate filing homicide and kidnapping charges against him on Monday. With those charges will come a criminal complaint that could reveal more details.

Patterson remained largely an enigma Saturday.

He has no criminal record, the sheriff said. He worked for one day in 2016 at the same Jennie-O turkey plant in Barron as Jayme's parents. But the sheriff said it did not appear Patterson interacted with the couple during his brief time there.

He graduated in 2015 from Northwood High School, where he was on the quiz bowl team and was a good student with a "great group of friends," said District Superintendent Jean Serum.

Barron, Wis., school bus driver Amy Stone.
Barron, Wis., school bus driver Amy Stone, who put a tree in her yard to honor Jayme Closs, says the tree is staying up until she knows Jayme is home. All she heard on the bus Friday morning, Jan. 11, 2019, was "they found Jayme!"
Evan Frost | MPR News

Over the past few months, detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches for Jayme, including one that drew 2,000 volunteers but yielded no clues.

In November, the sheriff said he kept similar cases in the back of his mind as he worked to find Jayme, including the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, who was 14 when she was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. Smart was rescued nine months later after witnesses recognized her abductors on an "America's Most Wanted" episode.

Smart said in a telephone interview that Jayme's story is "why we can never give up hope on any missing child."

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