GORDON — The man suspected of kidnapping a Wisconsin teenager and killing her parents with a shotgun nearly three months ago appears to have led an unremarkable existence until that fateful night, blending into the state's vast northwestern forests.
Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, grew up in Gordon, a sprawling township of 645 people tucked into the snowy evergreen forests about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Lake Superior. It's wild country; roadside signs admonish motorists to share the pavement with ATVs.
Patterson is expected to make his initial court appearance Monday afternoon in Barron County Circuit Court. Prosecutors are set to formally charge him with two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping before court begins, and the charging documents could shed light on what investigators believe the young man knew about his victims, his motives and tactics.
The few neighbors who know Patterson's family say he grew up in a cabin in a remote development that's a mix of seasonal and year-round homes about 10 miles (16 kilometers) outside Gordon proper. Patterson's high school teachers barely remember the now 21-year-old man who graduated only three years ago, and say they didn't realize he still lived in the area.
Jayme Closs, 13, has told authorities since her escape on Thursday that she was held captive at that same remote woodland cabin after her abduction in October from her family home in Barron.
The New York Post published photos of the cabin on Monday. They show a shabby living area with a couch, refrigerator and old television set. The ceiling is unfinished. Exterior photographs show a lean-to loaded with firewood, a three-car garage and an empty box of adult female diapers in a trash can. A sign over the cabin's front door reads "Pattersons Retreat."
Authorities believe Patterson went to the Closs home intending to kidnap Jayme. But they haven't been able to find any connection between him and the Closs family. The girl's grandfather, Robert Naiberg, insisted Saturday that none of them know him, raising questions about how Patterson became aware of Jayme. Investigators say they've found no evidence of any online conversations between the two.
Patterson's parents divorced in 2008, according to online court records. Neighbor Daphne Ronning told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the parents moved away but that Patterson and his older brother, Erik, continued to stay in the cabin. She said she and her husband once caught them siphoning gas. Another neighbor, Patricia Osborne, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the brothers often got into trouble. She said they stole things and spent time in foster care.
The development was sealed off by police Saturday, preventing reporters from knocking on neighbors' doors. No telephone listing could be found for Ronning, and Osborne declined to comment before hanging up.
Patterson graduated in 2015 from Northwood High School in nearby Minong, a single building that houses pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. He was a member of the school's quiz bowl team, competing against other schools in tests of knowledge. The Journal Sentinel reported Saturday that he wrote in a school yearbook about his plan to join the U.S. Marine Corps following graduation, but The Associated Press has been unable to confirm if he followed through.
Northwood Superintendent Jean Serum called Patterson a "quiet, good student who had wonderful friends and a supportive class," but said she had no real memories of him. Kristin Kasinskas, one of the neighbors who took Jayme in after her escape last week, told The Associated Press that she was Patterson's middle school science teacher. She said she didn't really remember anything about him except that he was quiet.
He worked for a day in 2016 for the Jennie-O turkey plant in Barron before he quit, saying he was moving out of the area, according to Jennie-O President Steve Lykken. It's unknown what he has done for a living since then. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said he was unemployed when officers arrested him.
The suspect has no apparent online presence. It appears he has been living in the family cabin; property records indicate his father still owned the place in October. But he has kept a low profile. Kasinskas told The Star Tribune that she didn't even realize he was her neighbor.
Jake Patterson has no criminal history in Wisconsin but his brother Erik has had multiple run-ins with the law, including convictions for marijuana possession, bail jumping and sexual assault, online court records show. However, investigators believe Jake Patterson acted alone.
Despite Erik Patterson's criminal record, few across the township seem to have heard of his family. James Kuffel, the township's lone constable, said he knows almost everyone in the area but has never encountered the Pattersons.
One of the businesses closest to the development is J&K's Halfway House Bar and Grille. Owner Karen Beeler said she's run the place for 22 years and had never heard of the family before Jake Patterson was arrested.
"I have no clue who they are," she said.
Investigators believe Patterson broke into James and Denise Closs' home near Barron on Oct. 15, blowing the front door open with a shotgun blast. They say he then gunned the couple down and made off with their 13-year-old daughter, Jayme.
The girl was missing for nearly three months. Police collected more than 3,500 tips but no hard leads emerged.
Then on Thursday, a woman walking her dog spotted Jayme along a road near Gordon, a town about an hour's drive north of Barron. The woman says the girl begged her for help, saying Patterson had been hiding her in a nearby cabin and that she had escaped when he left her alone.
Neighbors called 911 and officers arrested Patterson within minutes.
Charging documents in Wisconsin typically contain at least a partial narrative of what happened at a crime scene, as prosecutors try to prove there's probable cause to support the allegations.
Details of Jayme's three-month captivity have not been released, and Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald has not said whether Jayme was sexually assaulted.
But Patterson's attorneys, public defenders Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, have been lauded for taking high-profile cases with a special emphasis on sexually violent people, according to a state public defender office news release from February 2018.
Glynn and Jones issued a statement Saturday saying they are relying on the court system to treat Patterson fairly.
Fitzgerald said he met Jayme for the first time Sunday, and that she had an "awesome" smile on her face. He said she showed him her room at her aunt's home in Barron.
"It was a moment I'll never forget," Fitzgerald said.