BARRON, Wis. (Reuters) - The Wisconsin man charged with kidnapping a 13-year-old girl and killing her parents will face a criminal trial after he waived his right to a probable cause hearing on Wednesday.
Jake Patterson, 21, handcuffed and wearing an orange jumpsuit, appeared in Barron County Circuit Court on Wednesday. He told the judge he understood the charges and waived his right to a preliminary hearing of the evidence against him. The proceeding lasted less than three minutes.
Patterson is charged with murder for shooting Jayme Closs’ parents to death with a shotgun and kidnapping the girl he had targeted seemingly at random after spotting her boarding a school bus. He held her for three months until she escaped.
Patterson will enter a plea during an arraignment set for March 27.
Police say Patterson admitted to dragging Closs into the trunk of his car and driving to his tiny cabin in Gordon, Wisconsin, about 112 miles (180 km) northeast of Minneapolis, where he held her hostage for months, sometimes under his bed.
The October discovery of the parents’ bodies in their home in Barron, Wisconsin, with the door blasted open and their daughter gone, sparked a search by hundreds of police officers and thousands of volunteers.
After 88 days, Closs escaped on Jan. 10 and sought help from a woman walking her dog, according to court papers. Soon after, police arrested Patterson, who told investigators he had been looking for Closs.
Patterson is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of James and Denise Closs, as well as kidnapping and burglary counts. If convicted, he could face a sentence of life in prison.
More than a dozen relatives and friends of the Closs family entered the courtroom in somber silence, escorted by security. The girl was not among them.
After the hearing, Patterson turned to his family and said, “I love you,” according to media reports. Followed into the parking lot by a horde of television cameras, Jake’s father, Patrick, stared at the ground and did not comment.
Writing by Katharine Jackson; editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman