Jennifer Smith

At center, Jennifer Smith reads a prepared statement following the sentencing of Jake Patterson on Friday, May 24, in Barron County Circuit Court. At left is Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright. At center right is attorney Chris Gramstrup, representing Jayme Closs, and at right is Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald.

Saying he believed defendant Jake T. Patterson to be "one of the most dangerous men ever to walk this planet," Barron County Circuit Court Judge James Babler sentenced Patterson to a pair of consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of James and Denise Closs, and another 40-year term (25 years of confinement and 15 years of “extended supervision”) for the kidnapping of their daughter, Jayme, during a sentencing hearing Friday, May 24, 2019.

The decision was handed down at the end of an emotional two-hour hearing that included — for the first time — the playing of the 911 call made by Denise Closs on the night the crimes were committed, early on the morning of Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, when Patterson forced his way into the family’s rural Barron home.

Members of the Closs family made statements to the court before sentencing was imposed. Attorney Chris Gramstrup, representing an absent Jayme Closs, read a statement from the girl about how Patterson kidnapped and held her in a remote Douglas County home for 88 days. Jayme talked about how she no longer wanted to visit the home she had shared with her parents. She added that what had seemed a place she felt safe was now “a horrific memory.”

A weeping Patterson told the court that he couldn’t “take back what I did. There’s nothing I can do to bring (his victims) back. I am so sorry.”

A statement was made during a press conference immediately following the hearing by Jayme’s aunt, Jennifer Smith, who, along with her husband, Bob, have taken Jayme in since her escape in January.

“We are satisfied with the outcome and believe it will give Jayme (closure),” Smith said. “She has made a great deal of progress, but has much more left to do. We appreciate the time and space the media has given us.”

The press conference also included statements of thanks by District Attorney Brian Wright, who thanked Babler for rendering the sentence Wright had recommended in court, and from Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, who said how much he appreciated the efforts of law enforcement officers in Wisconsin and throughout the country.

Further coverage and photos will appear in the May 29 editions of the Barron News-Shield and Chetek Alert.