JAKE Patterson, 21, has admitted kidnapping Jayme Closs, 13, murdering her parents and keeping the teen captive in his remote cabin for 88 days.
The Wisconsin man, who sniffled and stuttered in court today, faces up to life in prison when he’s sentenced in two months’ time.
Patterson, who told authorities that he randomly decided to abduct Closs after watching her board a school bus, tearfully responded “guilty” to two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of James and Denise Closs and Jayme’s kidnapping.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped a count of armed burglary.
Reuters reports that nearly two dozen of Closs’s family members attended Wednesday’s hearing.
Patterson’s father and sister were also present, and both put their heads down and wept as the judge read the charges.
As sheriff’s deputies escorted the killer out of the courtroom, he turned to a news camera and said, “Bye, Jayme,” to an audible groan from one of her family members.
The Associated Press reports that Patterson had said he would plead guilty in a letter sent this month to a Minneapolis TV station, saying he didn’t want the Closs family “to worry about a trial.”
88 DAYS HELD HOSTAGE
Patterson admitted kidnapping Jayme after killing her mum and dad on October 15 at the family’s home near Barron, about 90 miles (145km) northeast of Minneapolis.
He shot and killed the father through the front door with a shotgun, killed his wife in a bathtub and duct-taped Jayme’s mouth and stuffed her in the boot of his car, according to police.
Jayme escaped in January, after 88 days of being held hostage in Patterson’s woodland cabin, near the small, isolated town of Gordon, some 60 miles (97km) from her home.
In a Wisconsin court today, Barron County Judge James Gabler asked him whether he understood what he was doing.
He answered “yes” and “yeah” to repeated questions, and could be heard sniffling when he later responded “guilty” to each count.
Patterson then paused for several seconds after the judge asked him about the kidnapping charge, before stuttering, “guilty”.
Members of the Closs family and Patterson’s father and sister all left the courthouse without commenting.
According to a criminal complaint, Patterson told authorities he decided Jayme “was the girl he was going to take” after he saw her getting on a school bus near her home.
He told investigators he plotted carefully, including donning all-black clothing, putting stolen license plates on his car and taking care to leave no fingerprints on his shotgun.
Jayme told cops that during the night of the abduction, the family dog’s barking woke her, and she went to wake up her parents as a car came up the driveway.
‘BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN’
While her dad went to the front door, Jayme and her mum hid in the bathroom, clutching each other in the bathtub, with the shower curtain pulled shut.
Patterson shot Jayme’s father as he entered the house, and then found Jayme and her mother.
He told detectives he wrapped tape around Jayme’s mouth and head, taped her hands behind her back and taped her ankles together, then shot her mother in the head.
He then dragged Jayme outside, threw her in the boot of his car and took her to his cabin, the complaint said.
During the teenager’s time in captivity, Patterson forced her to hide under a bed when he had friends over and penned her in with tote boxes and weights, warning that if she moved, “bad things could happen to her.”
He also turned up the radio so visitors couldn’t hear her, according to the complaint.
Authorities searched for Jayme for months and collected more than 3,500 tips.
On January 10, the brave teen managed to escape from the cabin while Patterson was away. She then flagged down a woman who was out walking a dog and pleaded for help.
Patterson was arrested minutes later.
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Laura Tancre, of nearby village Star Prairie, said she was relieved by Patterson’s plea and “happy for the little girl.”
Tancre, 57, worked at the same turkey plant as Jayme’s parents and described them as “very nice people”.
She added: “I think he should get life for killing both parents. I’d hate for him to get out and be able to do it again.”
The judge scheduled Patterson’s sentencing hearing for May 24.