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Family says Jayme in 'good spirits'; suspect due in court

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Jayme Closs (right) with her aunt, Jennifer Smith
This Friday 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 Jayme Closs said Sunday she's in "exceptionally good spirits," spending time with family three days after police said she escaped a man who allegedly killed her parents and held her captive for nearly three months.

Meanwhile, the suspect in the case is due to make an initial appearance in court in Barron County, Wis., at 3:30 p.m. Monday.

The 13-year-old girl from Barron, Wis., on Thursday fled the cabin near the small town of Gordon — about an hour north of her home — where she said she had been imprisoned. She approached a woman walking a dog and asked for her help.

Police officers arrested 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson minutes later based on Jayme's description of his vehicle. Authorities are holding Patterson on suspicion of kidnapping and homicide.

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

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said investigators spent the weekend searching Patterson's home in Gordon. There still appeared to be no clear connection between the suspect and the Closs family, according to Fitzgerald, and no tips had come in about the suspect, who had no prior criminal record.

Little has been revealed about Jayme's ordeal since her abduction in mid-October, although more details could come Monday when Patterson is expected to be charged.

Patterson attorneys Charles Glynn and Richard Jones said in a statement that they consider the situation "very tragic" and that they are relying on the court system to treat their client fairly.

Exceptionally good spirits

Jayme's grandfather, Robert Naiberg, said Sunday that, considering the circumstances, the teen is holding up.

"She's doing exceptionally well for what she went through," Naiberg told the Associated Press by phone. "She's in exceptionally good spirits."

Jayme has been staying with an aunt in Barron since she escaped.

Two Dead-Child Missing
The sign outside city hall in Barron, Wis., on Friday welcomes Jayme Closs home.
Aaron Lavinsky | Star Tribune via AP

On Sunday, area churchgoers said their prayers were answered by Jayme's safe return.

"We are overjoyed and we couldn't be happier. It's a miracle and it's wonderful," Mary Haas told the Star Tribune while taking down Christmas decorations after Mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Barron. "We prayed and prayed and prayed."

Abductions by strangers a rarity

While each case is unique, it's very rare for a stranger to abduct a child, according to John Bischoff, executive director of the Missing Children Division for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The organization assisted with the exhaustive months-long search for Jayme Closs — a search that never yielded anything related to the suspect.

"I know law enforcement is working extremely hard to continue the investigation and more details will be coming out in weeks or months to come, that will hopefully provide some clarity as to what happened," Bischoff said.

Bischoff said the national center assists law enforcement with nearly 6,500 active missing children cases at any given time — and in the most recent year studied, only 115 kidnappings were cases of children taken by strangers or slight acquaintances. 

Alison Feigh, director of the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, said social media and around-the-clock news sources have helped drastically improve how often missing children are recovered since those statistics were first recorded in the 1980s. Authorities said the woman Jayme approached for help on Thursday immediately recognized her.

"In the mid-1980s they were reporting a 60 percent recovery rate for missing kids, and two years ago the national center said they were at a 97.5 percent recovery rate for missing children," Feigh said. "So, the good news is kids are found far more than they used to be."

Feigh pointed out that Jayme wasn't found — she escaped on her own. She said she hoped Jayme's journey as a survivor will be one filled with support and proper resources.