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Suspect in Jayme Closs abduction has no criminal record

BARRON — The man suspected of kidnapping Jayme Closs on Oct. 15 and killing her parents has no criminal background and no apparent ties to the teen, said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald.

The suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson of Gordon in Douglas County. He is in the Barron County Jail on possible charges of two counts of first-degree homicide and one count of kidnapping. A criminal complaint is expected to be filed next week, and Patterson would appear in court for the first time.

Fitzgerald said the work done by everyone who put up missing posters and signs was crucial, because it kept Closs’ face in the public’s eye.

Closs escaped from the home sometime after 4 p.m. Thursday, headed down a road, and found Jeanne Nutter, a social worker from Eau Claire, walking a dog. She identified herself to Nutter, and they went to a neighbor’s home, who immediately called 911, Fitzgerald said.

“That is the will of a kid to survive,” Fitzgerald said. “She was recognized immediately by the female walking the dog and the neighbor — that’s because of the work we did.”

Closs was treated at a hospital and stayed overnight, but has been deemed healthy and has been cleared. Fitzgerald said he didn’t know if there were any signs of abuse.

Closs was able to identify the car driven by her captor, and police were able to arrest him shortly after that, as he was just down the road from his residence.

Officers went to the home, and no one else was present. Fitzgerald said they have no other suspects.

“It’s a home in a remote area,” Fitzgerald said. “There aren’t a lot of houses in that area.”

Fitzgerald said that Patterson, who was unemployed, took “steps to conceal his identity” over the past three months, but wouldn’t elaborate further. He didn’t know how she was held captive for the past 88 days, whether she was locked in a room or restrained. He added that he hadn’t seen her yet.

It also is still unclear what ties Patterson and Closs together, as police haven’t uncovered any social media connections between them.

Several of thqe people who spoke at the press conference Friday repeated that it was 88 days since she was kidnapped. Fitzgerald said he never gave up hope she would be found alive. However, he said it was an unreal moment when he heard she had been found.

“My legs started to shake,” Fitzgerald said. “It was awesome.”

Fitzgerald thanked the public for the 3,500 tips that came into his office, for the people who showed up and walked fields looking for clues, and everyone who has provided food for his department and kept hope alive. He added that the Closs family is requesting privacy, and the media were asked to not go onto school property Friday.

Justin Tolomeo of the Milwaukee division of the FBI called it “an incredible day.” He praised all the law enforcement who have worked together, hoping to find the ‘big break’ that would resolve the case.

“It was Jayme herself who gave us this big break,” Tolomeo said. “This is all the outcome we’d like to have when a child goes missing.”

Barron School Superintendent Diane Tremblay couldn’t conceal her excitement.

“What a glorious day. This will certainly never be forgotten,” Tremblay said. “There is a lot of love, and hugs, in our school district.”

Tremblay said the students and staff have spent 88 days hoping for her safe return.

“We want to thank Jayme for being so courageous and finding her way back to us,” Tremblay said.

Tremblay said she has frequently been asked if the district would hold a celebration.

“You better believe it,” she said.

Fitzgerald said Thursday had been a crazy day early because he spent the morning debunking rumors that Closs had been located elsewhere in the state.

“Gordon was not on our radar,” he said.

The community of 3,400 residents was already showing signs of celebrating Friday, as the sign in front of Barron City Hall had already been changed to read “Welcome Home Jayme.”

“Everyone is just ecstatic,” said city lineman Jeremy Schlosser, who was fixing the sign Friday morning. “I guess they stopped the basketball game (Thursday night) to announce it.”

Barron Mayor Ron Fladten said “I was blown away — that was the initial reaction.”

“The community has handled this whole thing very well,” Fladten said. “Boom! A miracle occurred. It’s a lot to process. It’s almost unbelievable. There are so many cases with sad endings, so it’s a lot to absorb.”

The case began on Sunday, Oct. 15, when the Barron County dispatch center received a call from a home about one mile west of Barron. Officers arrived and found James and Denise Closs had been shot to death in their home, and 13-year-old daughter, Jayme, believed to have been home at the time of the killings, was missing.


Front-page
Drug overdose deaths among U.S. women have more than tripled since 1999

LOS ANGELES — For many decades, drugs of abuse were a menace that mostly threatened the lives of men. In 1999, fewer than 1 in 25,000 adult women in the United States died of a drug overdose, and childbirth was twice as deadly.

No more. Drug overdoses have become a prodigious thief of female lives in the U.S. And they are increasingly claiming women’s lives deep into middle age, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the 70,237 fatal drug overdoses in the United States during 2017, 18,110 of the victims were women between the ages of 30 and 64, records from the National Vital Statistics System show. That’s up from 4,314 in 1999.

Some of the steepest increases in fatality rates have been seen in women who may not fit the public’s expectations of drug abusers. For instance, the rate of drug overdose deaths among women ages 55 to 64 multiplied by a factor of five between 1999 and 2017, driven by a tenfold increase in the rate of prescription opioid deaths.

The finding that women well beyond middle age are misusing prescription drugs, abusing illicit drugs and probably taking dangerous drug combinations is more than just a curiosity. Added to an 80 percent rise in suicide rates among 45-to-64-year-old women since around the turn of the century, it suggests that daughters, wives, mothers and grandmothers are bearing greater strains than they have in the past.

Along with rising death rates of alcohol-related diseases among women, fatal overdoses are sometimes referred to as “deaths of despair.” In the last three years, they have begun to reverse decades of gains made in the nation’s life expectancy.

The study in Friday’s edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report also suggests that U.S. women are responding to stress in ways that are closing the long-standing gaps between men and women when it comes to self-harm, substance abuse and risk-taking behavior.

For instance, the team from the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control found that, just as for men, the rate of fatal overdoses involving synthetic opioids spiked sharply in 2015. Women’s deaths attributed to these drugs — including fentanyl and tramadol — grew 16-fold in the 18 years leading up to 2017.

Deaths linked to heroin and benzodiazepines, a class of prescription anti-anxiety drugs, also rose sharply, increasing 915 percent and 830 percent, respectively, between 1999 and 2017. Fatal overdoses of cocaine and antidepressants also grew, albeit more slowly.

In 1999, the U.S. women at greatest risk of a fatal drug overdose were between the ages of 40 and 44. But back then, the risk of dying from an overdose dropped off sharply after a woman’s 50th birthday.

Over the next 18 years, the rate of fatal overdoses rose for American women in all the age brackets between 30 and 64. But by 2017, they were highest among women in their early- to mid-50s. As a result, the average age of death due to a drug overdose rose from 43.5 to 46.5.

Overdoses among American women “continue to be unacceptably high,” the authors of the new report wrote.

The study also makes clear that as medical and public health professionals struggle to stem a national epidemic of drug overdoses, they must pay particular attention to women — and to a wider range of women than they have in the past.

The health establishment has expended great effort in the past to warn women of childbearing age about the potential risks of certain drugs, including narcotic painkillers and anti-anxiety medications that could harm a developing fetus, the CDC team noted. But it’s clear that equally necessary messages are not reaching the older women who are dying of drug overdoses, the authors suggested.

Health care providers who treat women for pain, depression or anxiety may need to pay special attention to those around midlife, they wrote. And insurance programs that serve older women, including Medicare, may need to sharpen their focus on older women’s needs for more careful prescribing, more focused counseling, and better access to treatment for substance dependence than they have done in the past.

Tribune News Service


Local
AP
Federal workers get $0 pay stubs as shutdown drags on

Federal employees received pay stubs with nothing but zeros on them Friday as the effects of the government shutdown hit home, deepening anxieties about mortgage payments and unpaid bills.

All told, an estimated 800,000 government workers missed their paychecks for the first time since the shutdown.

Employees posted pictures of the pay stubs on Twitter and vented their frustration as the standoff over President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall entered its 21st day. This weekend, it will become the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

“I saw the zeros in my pay stub today, and it’s a combination of reality setting in and just sadness,” air traffic controller Josh Maria told The Associated Press after tweeting a screenshot of his paystub. “We’re America. We can do better than this.”

The missed paychecks were just one sign of the mounting toll the shutdown is taking on Americans’ daily lives. The Miami airport is closing a terminal this weekend because security screeners have been calling in sick at twice the normal rate. Homebuyers are experiencing delays in getting their loans.

Roughly 420,000 federal employees were deemed essential and are working unpaid. An additional 380,000 are staying home without pay. While furloughed federal workers have been given back pay in previous shutdowns, there is no guarantee that will happen this time.

Workers are turning to Uber, Lyft and other side gigs to pick up some money in the meantime. In Falls Church, Virginia, outside Washington, a school district was holding a hiring fair for furloughed federal employees interested in working as substitute teachers.

Chris George, 48, of Hemet, California, has picked up some work as a handyman, turned to a crowdfunding site to raise some cash and started driving at Lyft after being furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the U.S. Forest Service.

But the side gigs aren’t making much difference, and he has been trying to work with his mortgage company to avoid missing a payment.

“Here we are, Day 21, and all three parties cannot even negotiate like adults,” he said, describing government workers like him as “being pawns for an agenda of a wall. You’re not going to put a wall across the Rio Grande, I’m sorry.”

Economists at S&P Global said the shutdown has cost the U.S. economy $3.6 billion so far.

The typical federal employee makes $37 an hour, which translates into $1,480 a week, according to Labor Department data. That’s nearly $1.2 billion in lost pay each week, when multiplied by 800,000 federal workers.

Many workers live paycheck to paycheck, despite the strong economy and the ultra-low unemployment rate. A Federal Reserve survey in May found that 40 percent of Americans would have to borrow or sell something to make a $400 emergency payment.

Government workers are scaling back spending, canceling trips, applying for unemployment benefits and taking out loans to stay afloat.

Maria, based in Washington, was already in a financially precarious situation because of two cross-country moves in 2018 and the birth of a premature son. The shutdown has made matters much worse.

“I’m just not paying certain bills. Car payments are being delayed, which is going to put a hit on the credit,” he said. “Credit card payments are being delayed.”

Maria took out a personal loan last week just in case. Now he is pulling his 4-year-old daughter out of day care and telling his 7-year-old son he cannot sign up for extracurricular activities.

Tiauna Guerra, one of 3,750 furloughed IRS workers in Ogden, Utah, said employers don’t want to hire her when she explains her situation because they don’t want to lose her in a few weeks.

In the meantime, she is taking out a loan to make her car payment, and she and her husband are delaying plans to move out of her parents’ house until the shutdown ends.

“We’re barely getting by,” said Guerra, a mother of two small children. “We are not able to pay a lot of our bills. We’re having a hard time trying to buy gas, food.”

Most of the government workers received their last paycheck two weeks ago. Around the country, some workers are relying on donations, including launching GoFundMe campaigns. Food pantries have opened up in several locations.

In Massachusetts, a private group has stepped up to ensure that those working at local Coast Guard stations have food and clothing. Don Cox, president of the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, said the nonprofit group has opened up centers at Coast Guard stations in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island.

The group is helping feed 500 to 600 families a day during the shutdown, about double the typical demand, Cox said.

“We’ve been doing this for 10 years. This is my fourth shutdown,” Cox said. “I wish the senators and the congressmen weren’t taking their paychecks. I’d feel a lot better then.”

Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado said she would not take her paycheck as long as federal workers were unpaid. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, another Colorado Democrat, said his staff would offer free breakfasts and lunches to unpaid federal workers at his district office in suburban Denver starting Friday.


Front-page
featured
Eau Claire woman helped Jayme Closs

Jeanne Nutter was walking her dog along a rural road near her Douglas County cabin when a disheveled teenage girl called out to her for help, quickly grabbed her and told her she was lost.

Then the girl told Nutter, of Eau Claire, her name: Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old Barron girl who vanished three months ago after her parents were fatally shot in the family’s home.

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 said. “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.”

Authorities arrested Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, on kidnapping and homicide charges.

Jayme went missing 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. The Barron County Sheriff’s Department said the girl had likely been 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 14 when she was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. 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.