On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

'Embodiment of evil': Patterson gets life, no parole in Jayme Closs case

Share story

Jake Patterson
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 file

Updated 3:42 p.m. | Posted 4 a.m.

Jake Patterson, the man who pleaded guilty to kidnapping a western Wisconsin teen after killing her parents last fall, was sentenced Friday to two life terms in prison without possibility of release plus 40 years for the crimes.

"There is no doubt in my mind that you are one of the most dangerous men to ever walk on this planet," Judge James C. Babler said before passing sentence, dismissing Patterson's short, tearful expression of remorse.

"I have no doubt that you have no regret, and I have no doubt that you have no remorse," he said, adding that he was putting Patterson away for life without the possibility of release in order to protect the public.

"You are the embodiment of evil, and the public can only be safe if you're incarcerated until you die," Babler said.

The sentencing capped a heart-rending hearing Friday where Closs' family read victim impact statements telling of the deep agony Patterson's crimes had left in their wake.

Patterson, 21, admitted that he fatally shot James and Denise Closs of Barron just before 1 a.m. Oct. 15, 2018, before kidnapping Jayme.

"Jayme lost everything. She must start over but she has her loving family behind her," Sue Allard, Denise Closs' sister, told Babler as she urged the maximum sentence for Patterson.

"The nightmare of what they went through ... remains in my head every day," she said of her sister and brother-in-law.

Mike Closs, James' brother, recounted having to tell their mother that James and Denise were dead and Jayme was missing. 

He spoke of his brother's toughness, hard work and dedication to his family. James Closs tried to keep Patterson out that night while his wife and daughter fled to the bathroom. Patterson shot James Closs in the head through the front window, then blasted his way through the front door.

"Because of this monster, Jayme won't have mom and dad at her dance recital, at her prom, homecoming," he said, holding back tears. "My brother won't be able to walk down the aisle on her wedding day."

  Jayme, 13, escaped from Patterson's cabin about 70 miles north of Barron after 88 days in captivity and sought help from neighbors. Authorities apprehended Patterson minutes later.

He pleaded guilty in March to two counts of premeditated murder and a count of kidnapping.

Jayme was not in the court Friday. The Closs family attorney read a statement from her.

"Jake Patterson will never take away my courage," Jayme wrote. "He can't stop me from being happy and moving forward with my life."

In the statement, she said she studied Patterson's behavior for the 88 days she was held captive until she could escape. "I watched his routine and I took back my freedom," she wrote in the statement.

Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright recounted the awful details of that night when Jayme was kidnapped. 

He showed a photo of the shotgun Patterson used to kill her parents. In the courtroom, officials played the 911 call Denise Closs made as she and Jayme were trapped in the bathroom as Patterson tried to break in, knowing that he had already killed James Closs.

It was hard to make out any of what was said, but the terror of that night was clear in the call.

Wright called Patterson a "cold-blooded killer" with no empathy or remorse over the killing of James and Denise Closs. "He's not sorry for kidnapping Jayme and murdering her parents, he's sorry he got caught."

In pushing for life in prison without parole, Wright said if Patterson was ever released, "anyone standing between himself and Jayme will be in peril," Wright said. "For the safety of the community, the defendant can never be given another opportunity" to kidnap another girl.

Patterson's sentence includes consecutive life sentences without eligibility for release for the killings of Jayme's parents and the maximum of 40 years for her kidnapping.

In brief remarks before sentencing, Patterson expressed remorse, saying he'd do "absolutely anything to take back what I did ... I'm just so sorry."

Patterson's attorneys acknowledged their client would spend the rest of his life in prison for the crimes, but asked for a sentencing structure that included parole, saying it would provide some opportunities for Patterson while in prison that he otherwise might not receive. 

They were not specific, but said Patterson was not a sociopath or psychopath and that his crimes were rooted in his loneliness and personal isolation. They noted he had no prior run-ins with the law.

However, from the moment he was captured, Patterson "took responsibility for what he has done," Glynn said, noting that he has seen remorse in Patterson.

He knows, Glynn added, "that he is going to die in prison and hasn't asked for us to argue for anything else."

Video of the sentencing