Sheriff looks to move community forward following Patterson sentencing

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Barron (WQOW) — Jake Patterson’s court case has concluded. Now the community looks to heal from the wounds the convicted murderer and kidnapper inflicted.

“We can stop talking about the bad, and start talking about the good,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said.

Watch: Jayme Closs’ guardian ad litem reads letter from Jayme to Jake Patterson

Fitzgerald was one of Jayme Closs’ biggest advocates during the 88 days she was held in captivity. As he said numerous times during the search, he believed she would come home.

“The day of that search, when 2,000 people come out, I mean that’s just a tremendous effort,” added Fitzgerald.

The case took a lot out of just about everyone involved, including his department.

“It’s been an emotional ride, for myself personally, this department, the men and women here that have worked on this case tirelessly,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s just been a blessing to have the men and women that stand behind me every day working this case.”

News 18 asked Fitzgerald what his department can learn from this experience. His answer: “You never give up.”

Details of Case:

It was the early-morning hours of Monday, October 15, 2018 when Patterson killed James and Denise before taking Jayme to his family home in Gordon.

Read: Details of Jake Patterson criminal complaint

That led to months of searching, prayers and questions.

More: Closs abduction, timeline of events

In the days that followed Jayme’s abduction, police received hundreds of tips – none of which proved to be credible.

Roughly a week after the incident, the FBI put out a $25,000 reward for information leading to Jayme Closs. At that point, the FBI and sheriff’s department had received thousands of tips – but still no sign of the missing teen.

Then on January 10, it was the news the entire nation was waiting for – Jayme Closs was alive and finally safe.

It was that day Closs escaped Patterson’s rural Gordon home and found Jeanne Nutter, a social worker, who helped get her to a safe place – the home of Kristin and Peter Kasinskas. They said their neighbor had a skinny, dirty girl with matted hair standing next to her. Nutter shouted, “This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!”

Related: Closs family vows to keep Jayme safe

More: Dispatcher details moments of 911 call

That same day, Jake Patterson was located in a vehicle just down the road from the Kasinskas home. There, he was arrested, and allegedly admitted to police he had committed the crimes.

More: Patterson lawyers say confession may hinder defense

On January 15, Patterson was in court for the first time and also moved to a different jailbecause a Closs relative works for Barron County.

On March 27, Jake Patterson pleaded guilty to killing James and Denise and abducting Jayme. Patterson became emotional as the charges were read to him by the judge. At one point, Patterson struggled to overcome his emotions to say “guilty.”

At that time, the judge told Patterson he could serve a minimum of 20 years in prison or up to life for each count.

Friday’s sentencing brings an end to the tragic case that started some seven months ago.

District Attorney: We want justice for the Closs family

Stephen Kelley

Stephen Kelley

Stephen Kelley joined the News 18 team in August 2006. He is currently the Executive Producer and an Evening Anchor.

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