Gordon, Wis. – In an era defined by social media, Jake Thomas Patterson has no online footprint.
The bartender at the roadhouse just down the highway from Patterson’s home doesn’t recognize him. Neither does the clerk at the only convenience store within 10 miles.
Even his neighbors in the backwoods of northern Wisconsin didn’t know he was living among them.
Hours after authorities named Patterson as Jayme Closs’ suspected captor and killer of her parents, little is publicly known about the 21-year-old who had no job, no criminal record and seemingly no public persona.
Patterson remains jailed in Barron County following his Thursday evening arrest on the heels of Jayme’s dramatic escape from the cabin that once belonged to his family. He is expected to be charged next week with kidnapping and homicide.
In a strange coincidence, the woman who briefly took in Jayme after her escape had been Patterson’s middle school science teacher. She remembered his name but had only vague recollections of his personality.
“When [Jayme] said the name, I said, ‘I know him — I’ve had that student,’ ” said Kristin Kasinskas, who lived just a few doors down from Patterson in secluded Eau Claire Acres, a collection of about 30 cabins near the Eau Claire River in hilly, heavily wooded land about 8 miles east of Gordon.
But Kasinskas didn’t have any strong memories of her former student. And she didn’t realize that he was her neighbor.
“He was a nice kid. Quiet kid,” Kasinskas said Friday. “Very smart. He didn’t speak out in class.”
In the hours after Patterson’s arrest, his family — including his mother and brother — shut down their social media accounts and ignored repeated requests for comment.
In a 2015 social media photo, since deleted, Patterson stood next to his mother, his hands in his pockets, unsmiling.
Patterson graduated from Northwood School, a K-12 school in nearby Minong, where the superintendent said he had once been a member of the school quiz bowl team.
Near the remote home where he was accused of keeping Jayme, other neighbors also had little recollection of him.
One woman, Patricia Osborne, described Patterson and his brother as getting into trouble.
“They’ve stolen stuff before. They’ve been in foster care,” she said. “And the dad I guess, I don’t know. I’ve met him and talked to him when I walked through the neighborhood, but that’s about all I know.”
One former high school classmate said Patterson “stuck to himself, at home and at school. … He was nice. And not dumb either. He just was quiet, too quiet, which explains why he didn’t have friends.”
Several neighbors said they weren’t aware he was living in the rural Gordon cabin, including Jeanne Nutter, whom Jayme encountered after her escape as Nutter walked her dog Thursday afternoon.
Authorities said Patterson was not employed at the time of his arrest but worked for one day three years ago at the same plant that employed Closs’ parents.
Patterson was hired at Jennie-O Turkey Store in Barron three years ago but quit the very next day, according to Steve Lykken, company president. Jayme’s parents — James and Denise Closs — worked at the company for 27 years.
Patterson’s parents divorced in 2007, court records show.
While he has no criminal record, his brother does. His brother pleaded no contest in 2013 after being charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl when he was 18. He was sentenced to a year’s probation. The next year he pleaded guilty to a felony drug crime involving marijuana and was sentenced to 30 months’ probation.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald has not said whether Patterson is cooperating with authorities as he awaits his first court appearance on Monday. He is expected to be charged with kidnapping and two counts of first-degree intentional homicide.
Staff writer Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report.