BARRON — A 21-year-old man shot a Wisconsin couple to death at their home in a scheme to kidnap their teenage daughter, then held the girl captive for three months in an isolated North Woods town before she managed to escape, authorities said Friday.
Jayme Closs, 13, was skinny, disheveled and wearing shoes too big for her when she approached a stranger and pleaded for help Thursday in the small town of Gordon, where Jake Thomas Patterson lives. Patterson was quickly arrested and jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges.
The news that Jayme was safe set off joy and relief 60 miles away in her hometown of Barron, population 3,300, ending an all-out search that gripped the state, with many people fearing the worst the longer she was missing.
"My legs started to shake. It was awesome. The stress, the relief — it was awesome," Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said, describing the moment when he learned Jayme had been found.
Jayme told one of the neighbors in Gordon who took her in that she had walked away from a cabin where she had been held captive.
"She said that this person's name was Jake Patterson, 'he killed my parents and took me,'" said another one of the neighbors, Kristin Kasinskas. "She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him."
The sheriff gave no immediate details on what happened to Jayme during her captivity, why she was seized or how she escaped. He said that he did not know if she had been physically abused but that she was hospitalized overnight for observation and released after an exam. Investigators were still interviewing her.
The sheriff said investigators do not believe Patterson and the girl knew each other.
However, Patterson worked for one day in 2016 at the same Jennie-O turkey plant in Barron as Jayme's parents, Jennie-O Turkey Store President Steve Lykken said. Patterson quit the next day, saying he was moving from the area, Lykken said.
Kasinskas called 911 to report the girl had been found after another neighbor out walking her dog encountered Jayme and brought her to Kasinskas' house. Minutes later, Patterson was pulled over by a sheriff's deputy based on a description of his vehicle Jayme provided, authorities said.
He was scheduled for an initial court appearance Monday. It was not immediately known whether the unemployed Patterson had an attorney.
Jayme's grandfather, Robert Naiberg, said he had been praying for months for the call he received about his granddaughter.
"I thought, 'Good for her she escaped,'" he said.
Jayme disappeared without from her home near Barron after someone broke in and killed her parents, James and Denise Closs, on Oct. 15. The sheriff said investigators believe Patterson killed them in order to abduct the girl.
Property records show that the cabin in Gordon belonged to Patterson's father at the time of Jayme's disappearance.
Patterson had no criminal record, according to the sheriff. He graduated in 2015 from Northwood High School, where he was on the quiz bowl team and was a good student with a "great group of friends," said District Superintendent Jean Serum.
Kasinskas said she taught Patterson science in middle school, but added: "I don't really remember a ton about him."
"He seemed like a quiet kid," she said. "I don't recall anything that would have explained this, by any means."
The woman who first spotted Jayme on Thursday, Jeanne Nutter, said she was walking her dog along a rural road when the girl called out to her, grabbed her and revealed her name.
"I was terrified, but I didn't want to show her that," Nutter, a social worker who spent years working in child protection, told The Associated Press. "She just yelled, 'Please help me! I don't know where I am! I'm lost!'"
Nutter took her to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas. Jayme was quiet, her emotions "pretty flat," Peter Kasinskas said.
Jayme told the couple she didn't know where she was or anything about Gordon, a town of about 644 people in a heavily forested region where logging in the top industry. From what she told them, they believed she was there for most of her disappearance.
After Jayme vanished, detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches. Officials recruited 2,000 volunteers for a huge ground search Oct. 23, but it yielded no clues.
Fitzgerald said in November that he kept similar cases in the back of his mind as he worked to find Jayme, including the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, who was 14 when she was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. Smart was rescued nine months later after witnesses recognized her abductors from an "America's Most Wanted" episode.
Smart said in a telephone interview that Jayme's story is "why we can never give up hope on any missing child."
"It was only a few months ago that we as a community gathered to pray for Jayme's safe return at Barron High School," Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright said at a news conference. "God has answered those prayers."
Associated Press writers Todd Richmond and Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, and Amy Forliti in Gordon also contributed to this report along with AP news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York.
A Wisconsin teenager missing for nearly three months after her parents were killed in the family home was found alive barely an hour's drive away, by a woman who said she was walking her dog along a rural road when a disheveled teenage girl called out to her for help, quickly grabbed her and told her she was lost.
Then the girl revealed her name: Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old Wisconsin girl who vanished three months ago after her parents were fatally shot in the family's home.
Jeanne Nutter, a social worker who spent years working in child protection, told The Associated Press on Friday that the girl approached her Thursday afternoon in a heavily wooded, rural neighborhood near the small town of Gordon, about 60 miles south of where Jayme disappeared on Oct. 15.
Jayme told the woman said she had walked away from a cabin where she'd been held captive, a cabin not far from Nutter's home.
"I was terrified, but I didn't want to show her that," Nutter told the AP. "She just yelled please help me I don't know where I am. I'm lost."
Nutter said she didn't want to bring Jayme to her nearby home because it was too close to where she'd been found, and she didn't want them to be alone. She said: "My only thought was to get her to a safe place."
The two went elsewhere in the neighborhood, to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas. Jayme was skinny and dirty, wearing shoes too big for her feet, but appeared outwardly OK, the neighbors said.
"I honestly still think I'm dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost," Peter Kasinskas told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "My jaw just went to the floor."
Robert Naiberg, Jayme's grandfather, told The Associated Press on Friday that his daughter called him with news that Jayme had escaped her captor.
Naiberg says Jayme reported that she'd been held by "a guy in the woods" but was able to escape.
Jayme went missing on Oct. 15 after police discovered someone had broken into the family's home outside Barron and fatally shot her parents, James and Denise Closs. Jayme was nowhere to be found, with the Barron County Sheriff's Department describing her as likely abducted.
Detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches in the effort to find Jayme. Some tips led officials to recruit 2,000 volunteers for a massive ground search on Oct. 23 but it yielded no clues.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in November that he kept similar cases in the back of his mind as he worked to find Jayme, including the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, who was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, when she was 14 years old. She was rescued nine months later with the help of two witnesses who recognized her abductors from an "America's Most Wanted" episode.
"I have a gut feeling she's (Jayme's) still alive," Fitzgerald said at the time.
He was right.
The Star Tribune reported that Town of Gordon resident Kristin Kasinskas heard a knock on her door Thursday afternoon. It was her neighbor, who had been out walking her dog when Jayme approached her asking for help. The woman, who declined to be identified, said she was pretty sure who the girl was, but any doubt was erased when Jayme gave her name.
During the 20 minutes Jayme was in their home, Kasinskas and her husband, Peter, tried to make her feel more comfortable, they said. They offered her water and food, but she declined both. Jayme was quiet, her emotions "pretty flat," Peter Kasinskas said.
Jayme told the couple she didn't know where she was or anything about Gordon. From what she told them, they believed she was there for most of her disappearance.
Gordon lies about 40 miles south of Lake Superior and about 65 miles north of Barron, Jayme's hometown. The town is home to about 645 people in a heavily forested region where logging is the top industry.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office confirmed on its website that Jayme was found in the town at 4:43 p.m. Thursday, and that a suspect was taken into custody 11 minutes later.
The Associated Press couldn't confirm the Kasinskases' account; the sheriff's office's non-emergency line rang unanswered Thursday night and Sheriff Thomas Dalbec didn't respond to an email.
Sue Allard, Jayme's aunt, told the Star Tribune that she could barely express her joy after learning the news Thursday night.
"Praise the Lord," Allard said between sobs. "It's the news we've been waiting on for three months. I can't wait to get my arms around her. I just can't wait."
Barron Mayor Ron Fladten said Thursday night he was overjoyed at learning she is alive.
"There was a lot of discouragement because this took quite a while to play out," Fladten said. "A lot of people have been praying daily, as I have. It's just a great result we got tonight. It's unbelievable. It's like taking a big black cloud in the sky and getting rid of it and the sun comes out again."
He acknowledged that Jayme may not be the same person she was before she disappeared.
"I hope that she's in good shape," the mayor said. "She's no doubt been through just a terrible ordeal. I think everybody wishes her a good recovery and a happy life going into the future."
If you can, hunkering down in your home until next weekend would be a wise choice.
A powerful storm system is set to hammer southern Wisconsin with a foot of snow or more Sunday night into Monday before a “polar vortex” delivers days of life-threatening and perhaps record-setting cold, according to forecasters.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the area from 6 p.m. Sunday through 6 p.m. Monday, with 6 to 13 inches of snow expected. The highest totals will be north of Milwaukee and the lowest southwest of Madison.
Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are possible Sunday night into early Monday morning.
"The potential exists for the storm to drop a swath of 6 inches or more along the corridor from Fargo, North Dakota, to Minneapolis; Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee, and Grand Rapids and Traverse City, Michigan," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said in a news release. "The northernmost suburbs of Chicago may also be targeted by the heavier snow band.
"There can be a dramatic difference between heavy snowfall and then little to no snow and temperatures climbing above freezing over a span of about 50-100 miles. The exact track of the storm will determine which areas are hit by or escape the snowstorm."
Stretches of interstates 29, 35, 39, 75, 80, 90, 94 and 96 could be severely affected by the storm.
"The snow north of the storm's track will be powdery, which will help ease the hardships of shoveling amid the frigid conditions," Pydynowski said.
If that’s not bad enough, gusty winds will cause blowing and drifting snow at times, especially in the wake of the storm Monday afternoon and evening as the snow tapers off from east to west and the bitter cold air begins to move in.
Temperatures will fall below zero overnight Monday into Tuesday and might not get back above zero until Friday, with wind chill values expected to be less than 35 degrees below zero at times from Tuesday through Thursday night, with the brutal cold not easing until next weekend.
The cold could threaten Madison’s all-time coldest wind chill of 54.3 below on Jan. 20, 1985. The coldest actual temperature in Madison was 37 below on Jan. 30, 1951.
Such an extended cold stretch would be rare for Madison: In records dating back to 1869 there have been just 13 times that Madison went three straight days staying below zero, according to data from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. The last time was 1996.
"We're going to be feeling it big time," Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the private Weather Underground, told the Associated Press. "It's going to be the coldest air in five years."
Masters said the cold snap is due to the polar vortex — the gigantic circular upper air weather pattern in the Arctic region enveloping the North Pole — splitting into three pieces in late December because of an occasional weather condition called "sudden stratospheric warming."
One chunk of that trapped cold air went to Siberia, another to Scandinavia, and the third piece is heading through Canada. On Wednesday, it will be over northern Michigan, he said.
Temperatures may tumble to 40 below in the northernmost U.S., AccuWeather said.
The cold will impact much of the eastern half of the country and dive deep into the southern U.S., with temperatures expected to be 10 to 20 degrees below normal in Florida.
"The end of January will bring the coldest air of the season for the Midwest and rival the Arctic blast from earlier this week in the Northeast," AccuWeather lead long-range meteorologist Paul Pastelok said in a news release.
The last polar vortex to hit the U.S. was five years ago.
“Latest indications are that Chicago could set a record on Wednesday for the day’s lowest high temperature,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Tom Kines said in a news release, noting that temperatures have not been below zero for an entire day in Chicago since Jan. 6, 2014.
Pastelok anticipates the harsh cold to ease somewhat across the eastern half of the U.S. during the first weekend of February.
"However, below-normal conditions can still be anticipated in the Upper Midwest and Northeast," he said. "Any cold for the rest of winter may not be as long and as extreme, especially for the Plains and Midwest."
In Madison on Sunday, look for increasing clouds, with a high near 8 and northwest winds at 5 to 10 miles per hour turning out of the south in the afternoon and producing wind chill values of 5 below to 15 below.
Overnight into Monday, the snow should fall mainly after 8 p.m. and before 11 a.m. with 5 to 8 inches overnight and 1 to 2 inches on Monday, the Weather Service said.
Temperatures should rise to around 18 by 5 a.m. and peak at 20 on Monday, before falling to 4 below overnight Monday into Tuesday as winds increase to 10 to 20 mph and gust to 25 mph.
There’s a 30 percent chance for snow Thursday and Friday and 20 percent Saturday.
Skies over Madison should be partly sunny Tuesday and Wednesday, mostly sunny Thursday and Friday, and partly sunny Saturday, with highs near 1 below, 12 below, 1, 12 and 28, and lows Tuesday night through Friday night around 20 below, 20 below, 6 below and 2.
27 Storm Track meteorologist Guy Brown forecasts snow developing Sunday evening and continuing until late afternoon to early evening Monday, with 6 to 10 inches south of Dane County and 8 to 12 inches north of Dane County.
Brown said quiet but bitterly cold weather will follow, with just a little light snow possible Thursday, and the cold snap breaking on Saturday.
Skies over Madison should be partly sunny to mostly cloudy Sunday, cloudy Monday, partly sunny Tuesday and Wednesday, increasingly cloudy Thursday, partly sunny Friday and Saturday, and mostly cloudy next Sunday, with highs near 8, 19, 3 below, 13 below, 1 below, 8, 25 and 21, and overnight lows around 5, 5 below, 25 below, 24 below, 5 below, 4, 15 and 17.
Saturday’s high in Madison was 4 at 9:54 p.m., 23 degrees below the normal high and 52 degrees below the record high of 56 for Jan. 26, set in 1944.
Saturday’s low in Madison was a record 23 below at 5:22 a.m., 34 degrees below the normal low and breaking the old record of 21 below set in 1963.
Officially, 0.03 inches of precipitation was recorded at the Dane County Regional Airport on Saturday, boosting Madison’s January and 2019 precipitation total (rain plus snow converted to liquid) to 2.06 inches, 1.03 inches above normal. The meteorological winter (December through February) total rose to 4.16 inches, 1.39 inches above normal.
Madison’s record precipitation for Jan. 26 is 1.15 inches, set in 1974.
Officially, 0.9 inches of snow was recorded at the Dane County Regional Airport on Saturday, boosting Madison’s January and 2019 snow total to 12.8 inches, 2 inches above normal. For meteorological winter, Madison has received 18.7 inches, 5.6 inches below normal. For the snow season (since July 1), Madison has received 22.1 inches, 6.3 inches below normal.
Madison’s record snowfall for Jan. 26 is 12.6 inches, set in 1996.
BARRON — A Wisconsin man accused of abducting 13-year-old Jayme Closs and holding her captive for three months made up his mind to take her when he spotted the teenager getting on a school bus near her home, authorities said Monday.
Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, told detectives that “he knew that was the girl he was going to take,” and he made two aborted trips to her family’s home before finally carrying out an attack in which he fatally shot Jayme's mother in front of her, according to a criminal complaint filed hours before Patterson's first court appearance.
Prosecutors charged him with kidnapping Jayme and killing her parents Oct. 15 near Barron, about 90 miles northeast of Minneapolis. He also was charged with armed robbery.
Investigators believe Patterson hid Jayme in a remote cabin before she escaped on Thursday. Police have said the two did not know each other.
Patterson sat expressionless during the court appearance, which he made via video feed from the county jail. He spoke only to acknowledge that his name and address were correct on paperwork and that he agreed to waive a speedy preliminary hearing. The judge set bail at $5 million.
Patterson went to the home twice intending to kidnap Jayme, but broke off one attempt because too many cars were in the driveway and called off another because the house was too active, the complaint said.
On the night she was abducted, Jayme told police, she was asleep in her room when the family dog started barking. She saw there was a car in the driveway and woke her parents. Her father, James, went to the door, the complaint states, and a man with a gun was at the door.
She said she and her mother, Denise, hid in the bathroom, clutching one another in the bathtub with the shower curtain pulled shut. They heard a gunshot, and Jayme knew that James had just been killed, according to the complaint.
Denise Closs started to call 911. Patterson broke down the bathroom door. Jayme said he was dressed in black, wearing a face mask and gloves and carrying a shotgun.
Patterson told her mother to hang up and ordered her to tape Jayme’s mouth shut. He told detectives that Denise Closs struggled with the tape so he wrapped the tape himself around Jayme’s mouth and head. He then taped her hands behind her back and taped her ankles together before pulling her out of the bathtub and shooting her mother in the head.
He dragged Jayme outside, nearly slipping in blood pooled on the floor. He threw her in the trunk and drove off, pausing to yield to three squad cars speeding toward the house with flashing lights, the complaint said.
The entire attack took four minutes, he said, according to the complaint.
Patterson took her to a cabin that he said was his. He told police he ordered a weeping Jayme to strip and dress in his sister's pajamas, saying he had to get rid of the evidence. He then threw her clothes into a fireplace in the cabin's basement.
He said Jayme tried to get out twice. The first time he screamed and banged the wall and made her so scared that he thought she would never try it again.
Whenever he had friends over, he made clear that no one could know she was there or “bad things could happen to her,” so she had to hide under the bed. He sealed her under the bed with tote boxes and weights so she could not crawl out, according to the complaint. She had to stay under the bed whenever he left the house, sometimes going for hours without food, water or bathroom breaks.
When his father visited, Patterson told investigators, he turned up the radio in the bedroom to cover any noise she might make.
He said he assumed he had gotten away with the slayings and kidnappings after two weeks went by. He told detectives that on the night of the kidnapping he put stolen license plates on his car and removed an anti-kidnapping release cord from his trunk. He also shaved his head so he would not leave hair behind and chose his father’s Mossberg shotgun because he thought it was a common model that would be hard to trace.
Patterson, who has no criminal history in Wisconsin, was described by people who knew him as a quiet and good student who participated in quiz bowl in high school. He wrote in his high school yearbook of wanting to join the Marines. On Monday, a spokeswoman for the Marines said Patterson lasted just a little more than month in the corps before washing out in October 2015.
Patterson told detectives he worked at the Saputo Cheese Factory near Almena for two days before quitting. The company did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.
His defense attorneys, state Assistant Public Defenders Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, said they believe Patterson can get a fair trial, but they are not sure where, and they have said they might seek a change of venue.
“It’s been an emotional time for this community and a difficult time for this community. We don’t take that lightly. But we have a job to do in protecting our client,” Jones said.
Patterson’s relatives, including his father, Patrick, declined to comment after the hearing.
After Jayme’s disappearance, 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 said 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, as he drove around the rural area searching for her.
Authorities said that when Patterson had left the remote cabin on that 88th day of her captivity, she finally made a break for freedom, putting on Patterson's sneakers so hastily that they ended up on the wrong feet.
The New York Post published photos of the cabin Monday. The images showed a shabby living area with a couch, refrigerator, an old television set and an unfinished ceiling. 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 “Patterson’s Retreat.”
Authorities have not said whether Jayme was sexually assaulted. The complaint does not charge Patterson with any form of sexual assault. The narrative in the document does not say what Patterson did with her.
Prosecutors said they expect to release more information on the case before Patterson’s next hearing on Feb. 6 and that additional charges could be brought in the county where Jayme was held. They gave no details.
Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright declined to say more about Patterson’s motive after the hearing. But he praised Jayme for surviving.
“She’s 13 years old, and if you read the criminal complaint, you can see the amount of control that he was exerting over her. And at some point, she found it within herself at 13 years old to say, ‘I’m going to get myself out of this situation.’ I think it’s incredible.”
Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to this report.
As potentially life-threatening temperatures settle into south-central Wisconsin, it’s a safe bet that just about anything you had planned to do outside the home Wednesday and Thursday has been canceled or delayed.
Beginning Tuesday morning, a cascade of closing announcements began appearing from schools — including UW-Madison, Madison Area Technical College and Edgewood College, as well as most private and public school districts — government offices, banks, shopping malls, theaters and restaurants. Even the Ice Castle in Lake Geneva has closed, citing the health and safety of guests and staff.
The U.S. Postal Service said it was suspending regular mail delivery Wednesday in several Midwestern states, including Madison and surrounding areas, due to the severe weather. Express mail delivery in metropolitan areas will be available, though, and post offices were expected to be open, said USPS spokesman Sean Hargadon.
Officials suggest calling ahead to see if your destination is open rather than risk being stranded in the cold. Most of the closures are through noon on Thursday, when the worst of the cold wave is expected to pass.
Most state, county and city offices will be closed Wednesday, when the wind chill is forecast to be as low as minus 40 to minus 55 degrees throughout the day. Madison city offices will also be closed on Thursday.
“It’s critically important that we’re ensuring the people of Wisconsin and our public employees are safe in these dangerous weather conditions,” Gov. Tony Evers said in directing most state agencies to suspend operations. “I am urging people to prepare for this severe weather and to exercise caution when traveling or going outdoors.”
State employees involved in emergency response, public safety and public health whose absence would compromise safety are required to work but may be released “based on operational needs,” Evers said.
The state Capitol, often a shelter of last resort, will remain open.
Evers’ order allows employees to request Wednesday off due to the weather and use leave time. It also directs agencies to offer employees the ability to work from home or use alternative work hours or days.
City employees can still come to work, work from home or take leave, Soglin said.
Metro Transit buses will continue to run Wednesday, with some limitations, and will offer free fares. Soglin urged bus patrons to check Metro’s website first to see which routes are in operation. City officials recommend those with disabilities who use the buses’ hydraulic ramps stay home during the cold snap, since the ramps can have trouble operating in the sub-zero temperatures.
Metro will be providing warming buses at transfer points when available.
The announcement to cancel classes at UW-Madison came after thousands of students signed an online petition calling for the university to shut down Tuesday and Wednesday because of the dangerously cold temperatures.
“It is the coldest time in 40 years, and even 10 minutes outdoors without appropriate protection will be very risky for frostbite,” said Hairu Zheng, who started the petition Monday night after the university announced classes would be held on Tuesday.
Essential campus services will remain open. Some of those functions include university housing and dining, life and safety, essential research and animal care, and physical building maintenance.
Most public school districts and private schools in the region called off school Tuesday, and the majority also canceled school for Wednesday.
That makes three days in a row for Madison schools to be shut down, and four days in a row for students not having to go to class, since no classes were held last Friday for a teacher planning day. The closings are starting to cause some logistical problems for high schoolers, since it’s the time of year when final exams are scheduled.
“The district will also continue monitoring the cold temperatures for Thursday, and communicate a decision as early as possible,” the district said in a statement.
Area school districts also closed on Wednesday include Sun Prairie, Verona, Waunakee, Stoughton, Monona Grove, Middleton-Cross Plains, McFarland and DeForest, along with dozens of smaller districts throughout southern Wisconsin.
Madison’s Overture Center announced it would also close, canceling Wednesday’s performances of “PAW Patrol Live!” and Forward Theater Company’s “Heisenberg.” The Wailers Wednesday show at the Barrymore Theatre has also been postponed, the theater’s management said.
STEVE KARNOWSKI and TODD RICHMOND
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.
GREEN BAY — Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan are widely regarded as the NFL’s two smartest, most offensively-innovative young head coaches. In a game trending toward high-scoring, point-a-minute offenses, McVay, the Los Angeles Rams’ head coach, and Shanahan, the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach, are considered cutting edge.
In Matt LaFleur, the Green Bay Packers didn’t just find another up-and-coming coach with the potential to join them. They got a coach who worked with both of them and learned from both of them.
Now, the Packers are hoping their decision to hire LaFleur as the 100-year-old franchise’s 15th head coach — a call they made Monday, when they offered LaFleur the job and began finalizing a contract with him — will be just what the team, the offense and two-time NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers need to get back to competing for Super Bowls after back-to-back playoff-less seasons and a 6-9-1 record in 2018.
Two sources told the State Journal on Monday evening that the Packers had settled on LaFleur, the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator, and informed the other candidates they had interviewed that they’d made their choice. ESPN was first to report that LaFleur was the pick. The team had yet to make a formal announcement as of Monday night, presumably waiting until all the contract details had been worked out.
“I feel very fortunate that I was around − in my opinion, and I know I’m probably a little bit biased here − two of the best play callers in the National Football League,” LaFleur told The (Nashville) Tennessean this summer, before the Titans’ preseason opener against the Packers at Lambeau Field on Aug. 9. “So it’s kind of a Catch-22. Because you kind of see those guys as the standard and you wonder, ‘Hey, that is the standard and I’ve got to hold myself up to that level.’ But you also learn so much from them.
“They have a great vision of what they want, and just really trying to see the game from an all-22 perspective, and how to attack defenses – and ultimately, what our job is as a coach: To just put our guys in position to make plays.”
LaFleur interviewed with team president/CEO Mark Murphy, general manager Brian Gutekunst and director of football operations Russ Ball on Sunday, the last of 10 candidates to sit down with the team’s brass during a whirlwind interview process after the club fired Mike McCarthy on Dec. 2, with four games left in his 13th year as head coach. Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin served as interim head coach for the final four games and interviewed for the job after the season as well.
A league source said the team is likely to bring back defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who came aboard a year ago after McCarthy fired longtime defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Pettine said late in the season he wasn’t interested in being a head coach again after two years as the Cleveland Browns’ head coach (2014-’15). Philbin could also remain in another role, one source said.
After firing McCarthy, Murphy insisted that the team wasn’t locked into a certain type of candidate, but of the 10 men the Packers interviewed, eight – including LaFleur − came from offensive backgrounds.
“I'm not going to say we're looking for this or that attribute or trait,” Murphy said on Dec. 3. “I think we want to find the very best coach and a coach that can bring the Packers back to winning Super Bowls."
The 39-year-old LaFleur first worked with both McVay and Shanahan in Washington, from 2010 through 2013: Shanahan served as the Redskins’ offensive coordinator under his father, head coach Mike Shanahan; LaFleur was the team’s quarterbacks coach; and McVay was an offensive quality control assistant and later the tight ends coach.
When the Redskins fired the elder Shanahan after the 2013 season, the three young coaches went their separate ways – McVay stayed on as the Redskins’ offensive coordinator under new coach Jay Gruden, LaFleur went to Notre Dame to coach quarterbacks for Brian Kelly, and Kyle Shanahan spent the 2014 season as the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator under Pettine.
LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan reconnected with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015 and spent two years together there, with Shanahan as offensive coordinator and LaFleur as quarterbacks coach. Under them, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan won the NFL MVP award in 2016 and the Falcons reached Super Bowl LI, beating the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
LaFleur rejoined McVay last year in Los Angeles as offensive coordinator when McVay took over as the Rams’ head coach. He left to join the Titans as offensive coordinator this season under defensive-minded head coach Mike Vrabel, who allowed LaFleur to call the offensive plays – something he didn’t do under McVay.
“I’m real happy for Matt. He’s been ready for a long time,” Shanahan said at the NFL scouting combine in February after LaFleur joined the Titans’ staff. “He was with me for I think eight or nine years, so he’s been ready for a while. He went through that and now he’s on his own and he’s earned this opportunity. I think Tennessee got a great coordinator and he’ll do a hell of a job.”
McVay said he didn’t want to let LaFleur leave, but felt he owed his friend the opportunity to be a play-caller. The two men remain close and it’s thought that McVay gave the Packers a glowing recommendation of LaFleur.
“He’s a great person. I wouldn’t be fortunate enough to be in the role that I’m in if I didn’t have people that were willing to invest and allow you take steps in your career,” McVay said at the combine. “(And) play-calling is one of those steps if you continue to want to try and achieve becoming a head coach at some point. I think it was an opportunity that he’s ready for.
“We always enjoy just talking ball. But he’s ready for this opportunity (and) he’ll do a great job leading. … Now I’ll be able to call him and bust his chops like he did for me after some of those bad play calls I made.”
LaFleur was the last of the 10 candidates to interview for the job. The others were ex-Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell; ex-Colts head coach Chuck Pagano; Philbin; New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels; Patriots linebackers coach/defensive play-caller Brian Flores; New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr.; Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell; Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken; and ex-Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase.
The Titans didn’t put up huge offensive numbers this season, finishing 25th in total offense (312.4 yards per game) and 27th in scoring (19.4 points per game). Of course, when the Packers hired McCarthy in 2006, he was coming off a year as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator in which the 49ers finished dead last in total offense (224.2 yards per game) and 30th in scoring (14.9 points per game).
All McCarthy did was lead the 2010 team to the Super Bowl XLV title, coach the Packers to four NFC Championship Games and nine playoff berths, and go 135-85-2, including his 10-8 record in nine trips to the postseason. The only coach in Packers history with more victories? The guy the stadium is named for, Earl “Curly” Lambeau.
“The first thing Matt said to me is that he doesn’t have an ego. That’s obviously the easiest thing to say and the hardest thing to do, and I think I’ve really seen that out of him,” Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan told The Tennessean in August. “He’s willing to adapt and learn, which is really important for anybody, in football or outside of football.
“Talking to him, you know he’s got a great football mind.”
A man reported missing from his Sauk County home on Monday was found dead in his car behind the Ho-Chunk Casino near Baraboo, and police are calling the death a homicide.
The town of Delton man, whose identity was not disclosed, was found shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, about two hours after a family member called police to report him missing because he had not been seen since Sunday afternoon.
Sauk County Sheriff Chip Meister said a suspect in the homicide has been identified as Robert Pulvermacher, 68, of rural Middleton.
Pulvermacher was last seen leaving the casino at about 1 a.m. Monday, with an unidentified younger man. [Note: The Sheriff's Office said they later contacted the younger man and he was ruled out of being involved in the homicide.]
“The death is being investigated as a homicide,” Meister said. “An autopsy is being conducted to determine the cause of death.”
“He (Pulvermacher) is said to frequent casinos in Madison and Baraboo, regularly playing table games such as blackjack,” Meister said.
Pulvermacher had been on community supervision with the Department of Corrections.
In 1999, Pulvermacher was sentenced to prison and probation for various crimes in Adams and Juneau counties following his escape from a federal minimum security prison in Duluth, Minnesota. He received an 11-year prison sentence in Adams County for first-degree reckless endangerment and firearm possession by a felon following his arrest there after a struggle with a sheriff’s deputy, which came after Pulvermacher pointed a gun at the deputy.
Pulvermacher had stolen the gun from a town constable in Juneau County three days earlier. He received a 3½-year prison sentence for illegal gun possession in that incident. His Adams County sentence also included 11 years of probation for false imprisonment.
In 1998, Pulvermacher was questioned as a possible suspect in the death of the Rev. Alfred Kunz, whose body was found in a school adjacent to St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Dane. Pulvermacher was not arrested. That case remains unsolved.
Meister asked anyone with information about Pulvermacher or the unknown younger man to call 911.
If you resolve to meditate or exercise this year — and follow through — you might reduce your chance of getting a cold or the flu, according to a UW-Madison study.
The study divided 390 adults into three groups. One group took an eight-week meditation class, another group took an eight-week exercise class and the third group did neither. All received flu shots.
From fall to spring, the meditation group had 112 respiratory infection episodes, for which they missed 73 days of work. The exercise group had 120 episodes and missed 82 days of work. The control group had 134 episodes and missed 105 days of work.
Based on those measures, along with the length of the illnesses and the number of health care visits, the meditation group fared about 17 percent better, and the exercise group did about 15 percent better, than the control group.
“More research into the benefits of exercise and meditation is warranted, maybe in higher-risk or sicker populations, where there are more health benefits to gain,” Bruce Barrett, a UW Health family medicine doctor who headed up the research, wrote in the study, published in June in the journal PLoS One.
“Until that research is done, we feel justified in advocating for both mindfulness and exercise because benefits appear likely, and there are minimal risks,” Barrett and his fellow researchers wrote.
The study, conducted from 2012 to 2016, involved adults ages 30 to 69. It was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
It was a follow-up study to one published by Barrett in 2012. That study, involving about 150 people ages 50 and older, found meditation or exercise can reduce the incidence, duration and severity of colds and the flu by about 30 percent to 60 percent.
A Lake Mills Fire Department captain was killed Monday after he stopped at the scene of a crash on the Beltline and was struck by another vehicle, Monona police said.
A vehicle crashed on eastbound Highway 12 near the Yahara River bridge at 6:51 p.m., police said. A second car stopped to assist at the scene, and the driver of the second car was struck by a third vehicle before officers arrived to help with the initial crash.
Lake Mills city attorney Daniel Drescher confirmed the driver of the second car was Lake Mills Fire Department Capt. Christopher Truman.
Truman, 46, suffered serious injuries and was taken to a hospital where he died, the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office said.
Police said the driver of the third vehicle, Samuel Patrick Cremers, was arrested on tentative charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and causing injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle.
On Tuesday night the Lake Mills Fire Department shared a message from the family of the driver Truman was helping.
The note, posted to the department's Facebook page, said Truman pulled in behind the woman and told her to get back in her car while he made a temporary repair. He told her he would follow her off the Beltline to safety.
"My heart is in so much pain for all of you," the statement read. "He is my hero."
Drescher called Truman “a truly great guy,” adding that he was a “shirt off your back” type of person.
“He’s just an excellent, excellent individual, very respected,” Drescher said. “This is a small community, and it’s pretty tough.”
Truman had been volunteering with the Fire Department for more than 10 years and worked at the city’s parks department, he said. Members of the Fire Department met Tuesday morning, Drescher said, and “it was just heartbreaking looking at the reactions of people.”
The Wisconsin State Patrol was called to assist with the crash reconstruction, police said. The Monona Fire Department and the McFarland Police Department helped while a stretch of the eastbound Beltline was closed for several hours.
The Beltline reopened at 10:15 p.m., police said.
Law enforcement said there were dozens of crashes and slide-offs across Dane County on Monday as a storm dropped 3.9 inches of snow on Madison for New Year’s Eve.
Note: This story has been updated to include a message from the Lake Mills Fire Department.
If you’re someone who hates snow and cold, get on a plane or start driving south now.
Southern Wisconsin will see its third big snowstorm of the past couple of weeks Sunday night into Monday, before another “polar vortex” brings the coldest weather in years, according to forecasters.
We’re talking life-threatening cold, with lows dropping colder than 20 below and gusty winds producing wind chill values that could threaten Madison’s all-time coldest wind chill of 54.3 below on Jan. 20, 1985. The coldest actual temperature in Madison was 37 below on Jan. 30, 1951.
Once the temperature dips below zero on Tuesday, it may not get back above zero until Friday, which would be rare for Madison: In records dating back to 1869 there have been just 13 times that Madison went three straight days staying below zero, according to data from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. The last time was 1996.
"We're going to be feeling it big time," Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the private Weather Underground, told the Associated Press. "It's going to be the coldest air in five years."
Masters said the cold snap is due to the polar vortex — the gigantic circular upper air weather pattern in the Arctic region enveloping the North Pole — splitting into three pieces in late December because of an occasional weather condition called "sudden stratospheric warming."
One chunk of that trapped cold air went to Siberia, another to Scandinavia, and the third piece is heading through Canada. On Wednesday, it will be over northern Michigan, he said.
The polar vortex rarely plunges as far south as the U.S., with the last big plunge on Jan 6, 2014, when Chicago's temperature dipped to minus-16.
But the region first must deal with another snowstorm.
The Alberta Clipper storm will begin dumping snow over parts of the Northern Plains on Saturday afternoon, with the system moving east and south across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois before heading to the East Coast. The Northeast could see disruptive snow Tuesday and Wednesday, and even the South may see accumulating snow.
"The potential exists for the storm to drop a swath of 6 inches or more, potentially along the corridor from Fargo, North Dakota, to Minneapolis; Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said in a news release. “There can be a dramatic difference between heavy snowfall and then little to no snow and temperatures climbing above freezing over a span of about 50 to 100 miles. The exact track of the storm will determine which areas are hit by or escape the snowstorm."
Stretches of interstates 29, 35, 39, 75, 80, 90, 94 and 96 could be severely impacted by the storm.
"The snow north of the storm's track will be powdery, which will help ease the hardships of shoveling amid the frigid conditions," though that also means more blowing and drifting, Pydynowski said.
That would include south-central Wisconsin, which is under a winter storm watch from 6 p.m. Sunday through 6 p.m. Monday, with possible snow totals of 7 to 12 inches, the Weather Service said, adding that the highest totals will be north of Milwaukee, and the lowest southwest of Madison.
Gusty winds will cause blowing and drifting snow at times, especially Monday afternoon and evening, creating treacherous travel conditions as the bitterly cold air begins building into the area starting Monday night.
Roads could remain in poor winter driving condition because road salt will not work in the bitterly cold temperatures that will follow the storm for several days.
Officially, it was 21 below at 6:53 a.m. Saturday in Madison, as measured at the Dane County Regional Airport. Fortunately, winds were calm.
On Saturday in Madison, there’s a chance for flurries from 2 p.m. through 4 p.m. and snow showers from 4 p.m. through 8 p.m., with increasing clouds, a high near 7 and southwest winds at 5 to 10 miles per hour producing wind chill values of 15 below to 25 below.
Overnight, the low should fall to around 7 below with southwest winds around 10 mph turning out of the northwest after midnight and producing wind chill values of 15 below to 25 below.
The high should be near 10 Sunday, with increasing clouds, and northwest winds at 5 to 10 mph producing wind chill values of 15 below to 25 below.
The Weather Service said snow should fall mainly after 7 p.m. Sunday and before noon Monday in Madison, with possible totals of 4 to 7 inches overnight and an inch Monday
Temperatures are expected to rise to around 19 by 5 a.m. Monday, then fall to 12 during the day as east winds blow at 10 to 15 mph and gust to 25 mph.
Once the storm exits, no more snow is in the forecast, with skies expected to be mostly sunny Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and partly sunny Thursday.
The Weather Service forecasts highs of near 2 below Tuesday, 9 below Wednesday, 3 below Thursday, before finally rising back above zero to 10 on Friday.
Lows Monday night through Thursday night should tumble to around 5 below Monday night, 18 below Tuesday night, 19 below Wednesday night, and 10 below Thursday night.
27 Storm Track meteorologist Guy Brown forecasts a few afternoon and evening flurries Saturday into Saturday night, snow developing late in the evening Sunday and continuing Monday before ending in the evening, with totals of 6 to 11 inches north of Dane County, and 5 to 8 inches south of Dane County.
Brown said quiet but bitterly cold weather will follow until the cold snap breaks with a high near 37 next Saturday!
Weather.com isn’t quite as optimistic, but it has the high in Madison near 17 next Saturday and then highs reaching the mid-20s in the following days.
Brown said skies over Madison should be partly sunny to mostly cloudy Saturday and Sunday, cloudy Monday, partly sunny Tuesday and Wednesday, increasingly cloudy Thursday, and partly sunny Friday and next Saturday, with highs near 8, 9. 21, 3 below, 15 below, 1, 12 and 37, and overnight lows around 5 below, 13, 5 below, 23 below, 25 below, 5 below, 17 and 21.
Friday’s high in Madison was 1 at 4:30 p.m., 26 degrees below the normal high and 52 degrees below the record high of 53 for Jan. 25, set in 1973.
Friday’s low in Madison was 18 below at 11:50 p.m., 29 degrees below the normal low and 8 degrees above the record low of 26 below for Jan. 25, set in 1904.
No precipitation was recorded at the Dane County Regional Airport on Friday, leaving Madison’s January and 2019 total at 2.03 inches, 1.04 inches above normal. The meteorological winter (December through February) precipitation total (rain plus snow converted to liquid) stayed at 4.13 inches, 1.4 inches above normal.
Madison’s record precipitation for Jan. 25 is 1.04 inches, set in 1950.
With no snow on Friday, Madison’s January and 2019 snow total stayed at 11.9 inches, 1.5 inches above normal. For meteorological winter, Madison has received 17.8 inches, 6.1 inches below normal. For the snow season (since July 1), Madison has received 21.2 inches, 6.8 inches below normal.
Madison’s record snowfall for Jan. 25 is 9 inches, set in 1898.
The first systematic study of well water in southwest Wisconsin found bacterial and chemical contamination at rates as bad as — and possibly worse than — areas targeted by new state water protection rules.
Some 42 percent of 301 randomly selected wells tested in Iowa, Grant and Lafayette counties exceed federal health standards for bacteria that can come from animal or human waste, or for a toxic fertilizer residue.
“I was surprised that it was as high as it is,” said Lynda Schweikert, administrator of Grant County’s conservation, sanitation and zoning department. “Now I’m just interested to see what is causing the contamination.”
A second round of testing involving more wells is planned for the spring, followed by a close evaluation of pathogens in the water to determine if they are the type that probably originated in dairy or swine manure, or from faulty septic systems.
Well tests conducted in November looked for E. coli and coliform, bacteria that signal the possible presence of other bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. Symptoms can be mild to severe to life-threatening.
Testing was also done for nitrate, which causes potentially deadly methemoglobinemia, or blue-baby syndrome. A growing body of research links high nitrate consumption to health risks in adults, including thyroid disease and cancer. Nitrate in drinking water usually comes from fertilizer.
About one-quarter of Wisconsin’s population drinks water drawn from over 800,000 private wells.
The state Department of Natural Resources recommends annual well testing. Schweikert said several residents who participated in the study told her it had been a long time since they had done testing.
The three counties agreed to pay for the initial stage of the study.
Gov. Scott Walker in 2018 approved stricter standards for disposal of manure in 15 eastern Wisconsin counties that have vulnerable groundwater. Conservation groups argued similar conditions exist in southwest Wisconsin, but that region isn’t covered by the new standards.
Walker’s DNR declined to participate in the three-county study, said Scott Laeser, water program director for the nonprofit Clean Wisconsin, which helped coordinate funding. A DNR spokesman declined to comment.
Pollutants on the surface of the land are carried deep into soil by rain and snowmelt. Throughout much of the state, drinking water is drawn from aquifers that are protected from pollutants by underground layers of rock.
But the bedrock is fractured and porous in a broad curving swath that runs under much of the eastern, southern and western sides of the state.
In the east, Kewaunee and Door counties have long had problems with contaminated drinking water. After years of pressure from residents and the federal government, Walker approved the new manure standards.
The technical standards — which are to be written by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection — will spell out how farmers will measure the distance from the land’s surface to the bedrock layer covering the aquifer. That distance is a factor in the rule’s limits on the amount of manure that can be spread on the ground.
It’s unlikely the technical standards will be written and approved in less than 18 to 24 months, said Lacey Cochart, director of DATCP’s bureau of land and water.
State geologist Ken Bradbury said enough was known about conditions in the southwest part of the state to justify applying the manure regulations there, too.
One of the objectives of the ongoing study of Iowa, Grant and Lafayette counties is to answer arguments that insufficient research and monitoring have been done, said Bradbury, who is helping lead the study.
Thus far, the initial results confirm what has been found in previous examinations of test results, Bradbury said.
In Kewaunee County, about one-third of tested wells were contaminated.
When variations in geology were taken into account test results indicated there was a 26 percent to 28 percent rate of contamination across Kewaunee County, said Mark Borchardt, a microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service who led an in-depth study of conditions there.
Borchardt is also a leader of the ongoing study in the three southwest counties. He called the new study’s initial findings “eye-opening.”
Farmers are wary of being unfairly blamed for pollution, but many have expressed support for the study, said Katie Abbott, Iowa County’s conservationist.
“No one wants people getting sick from their drinking water,” Abbott said.
It’s possible that faulty septic systems are causing some portion of the contamination, or that wells need to be upgraded.
Before the study is completed in 2020, researchers plan to investigate a variety of factors that could contribute to contamination, Bradbury said.
For example, in the southwest part of the state at least some of the soil is composed of clay, which can slow the downward flow of pollutants. The clay areas need to be better mapped to understand the extent to which they may protect drinking water, Bradbury said.
“The shallow bedrock and thin soils in southwest Wisconsin make this a vulnerable setting from the standpoint of groundwater contamination,” Bradbury said.
“Now that we’re beginning to get some solid data sets we can begin to compare the results to physical parameters such as bedrock depth, soil type, and well construction in order to determine the most important factors controlling well vulnerability,” he said.
[Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify two items in the sixth paragraph. The original said research links "the malady" to health risks in adults but should have said "high nitrate consumption." Also, while diabetes is one of the risks, the link has not been as well established as thyroid disease and cancer.]
BARRON — Authorities are deciding what to do with a $50,000 reward for information about 13-year-old Jayme Closs, who was found alive nearly three months after authorities say she was abducted from her home and her parents were killed by an intruder.
Milwaukee FBI spokesman Leonard Peace said Tuesday that the reward remains under review. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald says the reward is being discussed with the FBI and will be determined later.
The FBI offered a $25,000 reward on Oct. 24 for information about Jayme's whereabouts. The Jennie-O Turkey Store, where James and Denise Closs worked, later doubled the amount to $50,000.
Jayme was discovered Thursday by a woman walking her dog near the small northwestern Wisconsin town of Gordon, 60 miles (100 kilometers) away from her hometown of Barron. The woman, Jeanne Nutter, took Jayme to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas, who called 911.
Peter Kasinskas told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the couple does not want the reward. He says if anyone gets it, Jayme should because "She got herself out."
No information on Nutter's views on the reward was available.
Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, has been charged with the killings and abduction.
Patterson's grandfather Jim Moyer told ABC News on Tuesday that his grandson was "quiet and shy," a "nice boy, polite" who often "backed off from crowds."
Moyer said, "Computer games were more of a priority than social interaction" for Patterson. The grandfather says Patterson's family is "absolutely heartbroken."
Patterson was charged Monday with two counts of intentional homicide, one count of kidnapping and one count of armed burglary. Prosecutors say more charges could come later.
Patterson has been transferred to a different jail. He had been held in the Barron County Jail since his arrest Thursday. Sheriff Fitzgerald said he moved Patterson to adjoining Polk County Monday night.
Fitzgerald confirmed that one of Jayme's relatives works at the Barron County facility, but he called the transfer an "administrative decision" and said no one threatened Patterson. He says Patterson will be jailed in Barron County for court appearances.
Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency in Wisconsin on Monday, because of the heavy snows that have fallen and the extreme cold still to come.
"I’m concerned about the safety and well-being of our residents as this major storm and bitter cold moves in," Evers said in a release.
The state of emergency authorizes the adjutant general of the Wisconsin National Guard to call up military personnel to active duty if the need arises, and for all state agencies to be available if called on.
This request came from Wisconsin Emergency Management in case Guard units are needed to assist with emergencies in any affected parts of the state.
Dangerously cold temperatures are expected to drop actual temperatures to below zero starting Tuesday, with wind chill values down to 50 below zero, putting state residents and visitors at risk of frostbite and hypothermia.
Snow that started late Sunday night and continued into Monday caused multiple crashes and slide-offs across the state, prompting the State Patrol and the National Weather Service to urge people not to travel, at least through Tuesday.
The snow emergency in Madison continues to 7 a.m. Tuesday, so people parking on the streets in the city, including those parking in the snow emergency zone, should park on the odd house-numbered side of the street Monday night.
Since Monday afternoon temperatures have stayed in the low teens, city crews won't be deploying salt on major routes, because it won't work in weather this cold.
Instead, trucks will put down sand where needed, and will keep plowing until all streets in the city have had at least one pass, with more plowing set the rest of the week to clean up areas that need it.
The bitterly cold weather will make just about everyone want to stay indoors.
To that end, warming centers are opening in communities around the Madison area.
In Columbia County, warming shelters are in Portage at the municipal building and library; in Columbus at the senior center and library; in Fall River at the village hall; in Cambria at the community room and library; and in Randolph at the village hall.
Shelters are set up for daytime use, and visitors are asked to bring their own food and water, medication, games, etc., but no pets.
In Vernon County, warming shelters are in libraries in Viroqua, Readstown, La Farge (village hall too) and Ontario; in Gundersen St. Joseph Hospital in Hillsboro (open 24 hours) and in the DeSoto community center.
Because of the severe cold, Metro Transit in Madison is asking paratransit customers to cancel any upcoming rides that won't be needed, so rides can be scheduled properly.
Metro also advises riders to dress warmly if waiting for a bus, because there are occasions when buses are delayed for a short time.
For communities that don't have warming shelters listed, good places to go are libraries, shopping malls, community centers and senior centers, but if deciding on a place to go, especially in a smaller community, call ahead to make sure a facility is open.
Now to the bad wind chill news.
The National Weather Service has a winter storm warning still in effect until 6 p.m. Monday for any remnants of the strong storm that blew through late Sunday night, but the big danger coming up is from the cold and the wind.
A wind chill advisory starts at 4 a.m. Tuesday to 6 p.m. Tuesday, then a wind chill warning starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday until noon on Thursday.
The area covered by the advisory and warning takes in all or parts of Dane, Columbia, Green Lake, Marquette, Rock and Sauk counties.
Wind chills of 10 below to 15 below are possible Tuesday night, but with strong north winds blowing up to 25 mph, temperatures are expected to fall and wind chills getting worse as the day goes on.
The temperature could drop to around 8 below by 5 p.m. Tuesday, with wind chills between 20 below and 30 below. Winds could gust up to 35 mph.
Wednesday could be deadly to anyone not prepared to be outside.
"This will be one of the coldest stretches of temperatures and wind chills we have ever seen," the Weather Service said.
Wednesday's high is only expected to reach 13 below, and the overnight low into Thursday could drop to 27 below.
Wind chills are expected to be in the 40 below to 55 below range at times, from Tuesday night through Thursday night.
By Friday, we should see a high above zero, in fact up to 19 degrees above zero, then balmy weather moves in, with highs of 37 on Saturday and (gasp) 40 on Sunday.
There are chances for rain and snow during the weekend.
The future of Foxconn Technology Group’s $10 billion high-tech manufacturing campus in southeast Wisconsin was cast into uncertainty Wednesday after the company acknowledged the project was being “adjusted” in response to changing global economics.
The world’s leading electronics manufacturer said in a statement Wednesday that it remained committed to creating 13,000 jobs in the state, which it promised in exchange for more than $4 billion in state and local taxpayer-backed incentives.
Later in the day, the company said it plans in the next 18 months to construct several facilities, including a back-end packaging plant, high-precision molding factory, a system integration assembly facility, a conceptual product testing center and research-and-development data center.
But in an interview with Reuters, a company executive said the bulk of the jobs at the facility would be for white-collar research and engineering jobs, rather than the types of blue-collar manufacturing jobs President Donald Trump touted when he and former Gov. Scott Walker broke ground on the project last June.
“In terms of TV, we have no place in the U.S.,” Foxconn executive Louis Woo told Reuters in a story published Wednesday. “We can’t compete.”
Gov. Tony Evers’ top agency head said Wednesday the administration has been in regular contact with Foxconn, “however, we were surprised to learn about this development.”
Department of Administration Secretary-designee Joel Brennan said members of the administration contacted Foxconn leadership after reviewing the Reuters report and will continue to monitor the project.
Woo said the Taiwanese company wants to create a “technology hub” largely consisting of research facilities along with packaging and assembly operations. To that end, Foxconn has established a North American headquarters in Milwaukee and plans to create technology-focused innovation centers in Racine, Green Bay and Eau Claire.
Instead of manufacturing the TVs in the U.S., Woo told Reuters it would be more profitable to make them in China and Japan, assemble them in Mexico and import them to the U.S.
“In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory,” Woo told Reuters. “You can’t use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment.”
Foxconn chairman Terry Gou has previously said the company plans to replace 80 percent of its workers with robots in the next five to 10 years.
Woo said about three-quarters of the jobs created will be in research and development and design, rather than blue-collar manufacturing jobs.
Industry experts, however, still question whether it’s possible to maintain three-quarters research and development staff with a commitment to 13,000 jobs.
Robert O’Brien, co-founder and president of Display Supply Chain Consultants, said the possibility is doubtful.
“I’m not saying it’s not possible, I’m saying it seems pretty unlikely,” O’Brien said. “You’re talking about the staff of a major research university.”
O’Brien added the manufacturing facilities Foxconn claims it will build typically employ fewer workers and require less capital investment, especially if Foxconn doesn’t manufacture TV screens.
He also suggested Foxconn most likely can’t have it both ways: it either would need to build a research-intensive facility or a manufacturing plant — not both. But with the size of the factory, anything is possible, he added.
“The story doesn’t seem to mesh into a coherent picture with this notion that they’re looking at what looks like a back end of the original complex,” O’Brien said.
Either investment, if fulfilled, could still have a significant economic impact, he said. Knowledge workers are higher paid, having an impact on the surrounding economy.
Foxconn slow to hire
The development Wednesday comes after the Taiwanese manufacturer fell short of its job creation quota in 2018 and failed to qualify for any state tax incentives. The company in 2018 created 178 direct, full-time jobs, Woo wrote in a letter to Mark Hogan, CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which helped craft the tax incentive deal.
The 2018 jobs figure is short of the 260 full-time jobs minimally required under the state’s contract with the company, meaning Foxconn will not receive any tax incentives it could have qualified for this year.
The contract with Foxconn set a goal of 1,040 jobs for 2018 to be eligible for up to $9.5 million in job-creation tax credits. The company is still able to claim those tax credits in future years if it exceeds the jobs target for any verification period.
Hogan, in a statement Wednesday, emphasized the agency’s contract with Foxconn protects Wisconsin’s taxpayers and provides the Taiwanese manufacturer flexibility to make business decisions.
The 2018 jobs report isn’t the first time the company has received scrutiny. National media outlets have previously reported Foxconn has considered building smaller screens and making a lesser initial investment in Wisconsin, prompting critics — especially Democrats — to argue the economic development project was a bad deal for taxpayers. Foxconn at the time denied those reports.
Foxconn has promised jobs elsewhere that it failed to deliver on. In 2013, for example, Foxconn said it would invest $30 million to hire 500 workers for a new factory in central Pennsylvania, but the factory was never built. The company has also made commitments in Indonesia, India and Brazil, but has fallen short, according to the Washington Post.
An audit in December found WEDC had intended to award tax credits for employees who did not perform work in Wisconsin. A WEDC spokesman earlier this month said the agency had not planned to change that policy.
Evers on the campaign trail had been critical of both the Foxconn project and WEDC, which he had vowed to dissolve. He backtracked on that promise, saying he would not include any changes to the agency in his upcoming budget request.
Republican lawmakers have continued to champion WEDC, and in their December lame-duck session passed legislation barring Evers from appointing the agency’s CEO for nine months.
Evers has said he hopes for transparency and success for the project. Reuters reported Gou plans to meet with Evers later this year. An Evers spokeswoman has not confirmed the meeting.
Republicans blame Evers
Foxconn is eligible for nearly $1.5 billion in job creation credits through the year 2032. That doesn’t include capital investment tax credits, which Foxconn will be eligible for at the end of 2019. The company could receive up to $1.35 billion in such credits by the end of 2025 under the contract. In total, state tax incentives for capital investment and job creation amount to about $2.85 billion.
Foxconn has previously said it would invest up to $10 billion in Wisconsin, however, the figure was absent in its statement Wednesday.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, in a statement Wednesday lauded Foxconn for its investment so far in the state, and blamed the changes on Evers.
They specifically cited Evers’ plan to scale back a manufacturing tax credit that virtually eliminates Foxconn’s state tax liability — a benefit that was not tabulated as part of the company’s deal with the state.
“The company is reacting to the wave of economic uncertainty that the new governor has brought with his administration,” Vos and Fitzgerald said in a joint statement.
Foxconn did not mention Evers in its statement, which comes as demand for iPhones and other smartphones Foxconn manufactures has declined. Woo told Reuters the company is re-evaluating in light of the high cost of labor in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, who recently appointed himself to the WEDC board, took to social media to slam their argument, writing on Twitter “there is nothing more pathetic than legislative leaders responsible for selling taxpayers a bag of coal evading even a whiff of any responsibility and accountability.”
Vos and Fitzgerald emphasized the state’s contract with Foxconn protects taxpayers by not doling out tax credits to the company until it produces jobs.
Mount Pleasant and Racine County, however, have already spent money on infrastructure improvements and land acquisition.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, they’ve so far borrowed $355 million and spent $190 million, mostly to buy land. Foxconn has contributed $60 million for the village to use. The newspaper reports the entire project will require about $912 million in local government spending, which officials say will be covered by additional property taxes generated by the development.
Foxconn’s contract requires it to provide enough money to cover local costs even if it undertakes a smaller investment.
In a statement, Village of Mount Pleasant President David DeGroot, Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave and Jenny Trick, executive director of the Racine County Economic Development Corporation, brushed off the Reuters report.
“Contrary to what was reported by Reuters, Foxconn reiterated to us, today, its commitment to building an advanced manufacturing operation in Wisconsin, in addition to its commitment to create 13,000 jobs and invest $10 billion in Racine County,” they said.