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Wisconsin man arrested in teen’s abduction, parents’ deaths

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BARRON, Wis. — A 21-year-old man is jailed in the deaths of a Wisconsin couple he killed because he wanted to kidnap their teenage daughter, investigators said Friday, a day after the girl approached a stranger along a rural road saying she’d been abducted in October and held against her will.

Jake Thomas Patterson was taken into custody shortly after 13-year-old Jayme Closs sought help from a woman walking her dog in a rural, heavily wooded neighbourhood near the small town of Gordon, about 60 miles (96.5 kilometres) north of Barron. Jayme disappeared from her family’s home near Barron after her parents were killed Oct. 15.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said during a news conference Friday that Jayme was taken against her will. He said investigators believe Patterson killed Jayme’s parents because he wanted to abduct her, and that Patterson “planned his actions and took many steps to hide his identity.”

Fitzgerald said investigators believe the girl was “the only target” and don’t believe Patterson had any contact with the family. Douglas County Sheriff Thomas Dalbec said Patterson was jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges.

The woman who first spotted Jayme on Thursday, Jeanne Nutter, said she was walking her dog along a rural road when a disheveled teenage girl called out to her for help and quickly grabbed her. Only then did Jayme reveal her name.

Nutter said Jayme told her 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, a social worker who spent years working in child protection, told The Associated Press on Friday. “She just yelled, ‘Please help me. I don’t know where I am. I’m lost.'”

Nutter added: “My only thought was to get her to a safe place.” The two went to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas, who said Jayme was skinny and dirty, wearing shoes too big for her feet, but appeared outwardly OK.

Kristin Kasinskas, who called 911 to report the girl had been found, told the AP on Friday that Jayme had identified the suspect once she was safely inside her home.

“She said that this person’s name was Jake Patterson, he killed my parents and took me,” Kasinskas said. “She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him.”

Patterson lived just three doors down from Kasinskas, but Kasinskas said she didn’t realize it until police identified him as the suspect. She said she never saw Patterson on her street or in town, and doesn’t remember seeing him since he was in high school.

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.”

Fitzgerald said Closs was taken to a hospital but has since been medically cleared and released. She was being interviewed by law enforcement, the sheriff said.

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.

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 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.

On Friday, Smart posted on her Instagram account that it was a “miracle” Jayme had been found alive. Smart said the girl’s family should be given “space and privacy on their road to finding a new sense of normal and moving forward.”

“Whatever other details may surface, the most important will still remain that she is alive,” Smart said.

During the 20 minutes Jayme was in their home, Peter and Kristin Kasinskas said they tried to make her feel more comfortable. 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, a town home to 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.

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.

Jayme’s grandfather, Robert Naiberg, told the AP on Friday that he’d been praying for months for the call he received Thursday about his granddaughter being found alive.

Naiberg said his daughter called him with the news, saying Jayme reported having been held by “a guy in the woods” but was able to escape.

Sue Allard, Jayme’s aunt, told the Star Tribune newspaper 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.”

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For the latest updates on the story: https://apnews.com/c529a15d30f845c6adf6ccd478df3a5a

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Associated Press writers Todd Richmond in Madison and Amy Forliti in Gordon also contributed to this report.

Jeff Baenen And Gretchen Ehlke, The Associated Press


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With debt, deficit numbers out, experts say Liberals need plan for growth

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OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals’ fiscal update this week put a cost to all the emergency COVID-19 aid the federal treasury will dole out. It delivered some shocks: a gigantic deficit and a projection that the federal debt will top $1 trillion.

What is causing the federal deficit to hit $343.2 billion?

Late last year, the government forecast this year’s deficit at $28.1 billion. But the federal government is staring at a rapid drop in revenues due to the economic lockdown slashing the taxes people and businesses pay: that alone adds $81.3 billion to the deficit. Spending spiked by $236 billion for measures such as the $500-a-week emergency benefit for people whose work vaporized.

Combined, that borrowing will push the federal debt past $1 trillion by the end of the fiscal year.

Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page, in a post on Finances of the Nation, a website run by researchers and tax professionals, summed up what all that debt will mean for the government. He said future generations will pay for it through a mix of higher debt interest payments or taxes, “less fiscal room to address the next pandemic crisis or climate change,” or “less generous government programs.”

What’s the interest like on that debt? Can we afford it?

“Ironically, it’s not as hard as you think, thanks to record-low interest rates,” said Sherry Cooper, chief economist at Dominion Lending Centres, a big mortgage company.

The government can borrow money for five years at less than 0.6 per cent interest, for 10 years at just slightly higher, and for 30 years at a touch over one per cent, she said, which makes the cost of carrying the debt less today than it was one year ago.

“It’s even less of a problem because the Bank of Canada is buying so much of it,” Cooper said of federal debt, referring to the $5 billion in federal bond purchases the bank is making weekly as a form of low-cost loans.

“So you have a buyer of last resort which will keep a lid on interest rates at least for the next year.”

The government calculates lower rates will save it $4 billion on debt charges this year. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Wednesday the government is going to increase its issuing of long-term bonds to 26 per cent from 14 per cent of offerings to capitalize on rates and help manage the debt.

Rates are eventually going to go up, though, and when they do, so will the amount taxpayers shell out on interest.

Are taxes going to have to go up?

Morneau rejected that idea for now, saying hiking taxes would cause more financial hardship. The New Democrats have asked for a wealth tax on the top one per cent, which the parliamentary budget officer calculated this week could net $5.6 billion.

Cooper said raising taxes while the economy is still recovering wouldn’t be wise because it would make Canada less competitive, which would make it more difficult to raise the necessary revenues to pay off the debt. That leaves another option, she said: Grow our way out of it.

How does that work?

The idea is as the economy grows, there will be more workers and companies paying taxes. The same debt, in raw dollars, is less of a burden on a bigger, more prosperous economy. The Liberals have favoured the “debt-to-GDP ratio” as a measure of the government’s fiscal health for exactly this reason.

In their fiscal snapshot, they predict that ratio will shoot up from 31 per cent last year to 49 per cent this year. Though that’s a big increase, the ratio peaked at just under 70 per cent in the mid-1990s.

To help growth along, government will need to spend on things like high-speed internet, Cooper said, or growing sectors like clean energy. Experts also note a need for greater government spending on child care to help mothers whose job losses have been greater, and returns to work slower, than fathers’ during the pandemic.

Even a best-case growth scenario may not be enough to keep the debt sustainable, said Rebekah Young, director of fiscal and provincial economics at Scotiabank, saying more “decisive action” is needed.

“If we don’t keep spending and we don’t get hit again like a depression type of growth scenario, then in theory we can grow out it, but that shouldn’t be enough,” she said.

What other actions could the government take?

Cutting spending is where most eyes will go, and Morneau promised another update or budget come the fall. Research suggests cutting spending, rather than raising taxes, is better at aiding growth out of a recession. It’s also less politically problematic than raising taxes, Young noted.

Tightening purse-strings too early could hamstring the Bank of Canada into keeping rates lower for longer, Young said, which would limit its ability to respond to whatever crisis comes next.

If spending is brought under control relatively soon, the debt should be sustainable, RBC chief economist Craig Wright and economist Colin Guldimann wrote in a report this week. If not, “the red ink could keep flowing,” highlighting the need for careful moves in the coming months.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2020.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

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NHL/NHLPA announce Toronto, Edmonton as hubs, and CBA extension

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The NHL board of governors and NHL Players’ Association have ratified the return-to-play plan and a four-year extension to the collective bargaining agreement, paving the way for the league to resume its pandemic-hit season later this summer in Canada.

As part of the 24-team blueprint to resume the 2019-20 campaign halted March 12 because of COVID-19, Toronto and Edmonton were also officially unveiled as hub cities.

Training camps will open Monday in each team’s home market, with clubs scheduled to head to their respective hubs July 26 before games start to count Aug. 1.

The 12 Eastern Conference teams will start in Toronto, with the 12 Western Conference teams off to Edmonton. The conference finals and Stanley Cup final will be in Edmonton.

Once in Toronto and Edmonton, players will be kept in so-called bubbles — tightly-controlled circles with stringent health protocols and daily testing — separate from the general public in hopes of keeping the novel coronavirus at bay.

The extension of the CBA, which had been set to expire in September 2022, was viewed as a crucial aspect of the return-to-play plan because of the dire economic realities brought on by COVID-19. The new deal runs through at least the 2025-26 season.

“Today, the NHL and the NHLPA announced a significant agreement that addresses the uncertainty everyone is dealing with, the framework for the completion of the 2019-20 season and the foundation for the continued long-term growth of our league,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

NHL executive director Don Fehr said the agreement was “a meaningful step forward for the players and owners, and for our game, in a difficult and uncertain time.”

The second phase of the NHL draft lottery will be Aug. 10, with the eight losing teams in the play-in round entered to determine who gets the first pick in the NHL draft, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 9-10.

The last possible day of the Stanley Cup final is Oct. 4.

Each team will be permitted to bring a maximum of 52 people into the secure zones in the hub cities, including a maximum of 31 players.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press



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