The man accused of kidnapping Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs and brutally murdering her parents told a Minnesota television station he plans to plead guilty because he doesn't want Closs and her surviving family members "to worry about a trial."
Jake Patterson, 21, of Gordon, was charged in January with two counts of homicide and one count of kidnapping. Even after Closs' miraculous escape from three months of captivity and Patterson's alleged confession to police, several elements of the story remain puzzling. In an attempt to solve some of the mysteries, KARE-TV reporter Lou Raguse wrote Patterson, who's being held at Polk County Jail. Patterson responded in a handwritten letter, postmarked Feb. 28, with his replies numbered to correspond to Raguse's questions.
Patterson expressed concern for Closs and her family several times in the letter. Asked about his legal strategy in the case, Patterson wrote that he planned to “plead guilty," saying he didn't want Closs or her relatives to have "to worry about a trial." He also wrote that he confessed in part "so [authorities] didn’t have to interview Jayme. They did anyways and hurt her more for no reason."
Patterson also wrote about feeling “huge amounts” of remorse.
“I can’t believe I did this,” he wrote. Later, Patterson added: "It was really stupid though looking back."
A photo of one part of the letter posted on the KARE-TV website showed the words “I’m Sorry Jayme!” written in large, balloon-type letters. In much smaller print, Patterson added: “For everything. I know it doesn’t mean much.”
The 21-year-old is accused of kidnapping Closs and killing her parents in a shocking Oct. 15 attack at the family’s home in Barron. He targeted the girl after spotting her a single time, by chance, getting off a bus near her home, prosecutors have said. Patterson had no other prior contact with Closs or her family before the night he busted down her front door and started shooting. After absconding with Closs to his family's cabin in sparsely populated Gordon, he held her for 88 days until she managed to break free and flag down help. Patterson was arrested shortly thereafter.
He disputed telling officials that he planned the attack "thoroughly," claiming cops only attributed that to him "to cover up their mistakes." Instead, he wrote that he acted on “impulse" -- "I don't think like a serial killer." Patterson also assumed he would get caught, though he "thought [it] would happen a lot sooner."
“I followed [news of the kidnapping] through my phone. If something popped up on TV about it, I would change the channel,” he wrote. [I] Would tell Jayme ‘I’m sorry, I can’t watch this.’ IDK what she knew."
His motive for the attack remains a mystery, though.
At one point in the letter, he said his reasons were "not black and white." Later, he revealed "at the time I was really pissed. I didn’t 'want' to." After a scribbled redaction, he added: "The reason I did this is complicated."
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told the station letters are given to inmates as long as they are addressed to them and any incoming or outgoing mail is inspected by jail staff. He added he was aware Patterson had sent a letter to KARE-TV and no one contacted by the station had a reason to doubt its authenticity.
The teen’s family said police told them about the letter but declined to offer further comment, according to KARE-TV.
Patterson is being held on $5 million bail pending a March 27 arraignment where he’s expected to enter his plea.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.