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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.”

    ___

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

    ___

    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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    Funeral today for seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

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  • HALIFAX — Mourners will descend upon a large Halifax hall today for the funeral of seven children who died in a fast-moving house fire.

    The service for the Barho children will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Cunard Centre on the city’s waterfront.

    Imam Abdallah Yousri says funeral proceedings will follow in the Islamic traditions, but is open to people of all faiths and members of the public.

    He says he hopes that by opening the ceremony up to all who wish to attend, the children’s mother — Syrian refugee Kawthar Barho — will see the widespread support and sympathy from the community.

    Yousri says the traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members, including Halifax MP Andy Fillmore, who is trying to help some of the mother’s overseas relatives come to Canada.

    Following the funeral service, there will be a burial at a Muslim cemetery in Hammonds Plains.

    “(Kawthar Barho) doesn’t have family over here in Canada. She does not have friends as well here in Halifax because she moved here five months ago,” said Yousri on Friday.

    “That’s why we are trying to invite her to come see the support and let everybody gather.”

    Shuttles will be organized to and from the Cunard Centre to accommodate those who wish to attend, and ample parking is available at the centre.

    The children’s father — Ebraheim Barho — remained in hospital Friday recovering from extensive burns. He was in critical, but stable condition.

    Early Tuesday, the Quartz Drive house fire killed all of the Barho children: Ahmad, 14; Rola, 12; Mohamad, 9; Ola, 8; Hala, 3; Rana, 2 and Abdullah, who was born in Canada on Nov. 9.

    The cause of the fire remains unclear.

    The scale of the tragedy for the young family who arrived in Nova Scotia in September 2017 as refugees has struck a chord with Canadians.

    A GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $523,846 by late Friday afternoon, with a $1-million goal.

    The Barho family lived in Elmsdale, a 30-minute drive north of Halifax, when they first arrived in Nova Scotia and were embraced by residents there.

    They had moved to the Halifax suburb of Spryfield to take advantage of language training and other immigrant services, and had planned to return to Elmsdale next month.

    The family was among 1,795 Syrian refugees who have come to Nova Scotia in recent years. The Trudeau government granted asylum to 40,000 Syrian refugees in 2015-16.

    A brutal civil war has raged across Syria since 2011, claiming more than 400,000 lives.

    The Canadian Press




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    National

    Funeral today for seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

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  • HALIFAX — Mourners will descend upon a large Halifax hall today for the funeral of seven children who died in a fast-moving house fire.

    The service for the Barho children will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Cunard Centre on the city’s waterfront.

    Imam Abdallah Yousri says funeral proceedings will follow in the Islamic traditions, but is open to people of all faiths and members of the public.

    He says he hopes that by opening the ceremony up to all who wish to attend, the children’s mother — Syrian refugee Kawthar Barho — will see the widespread support and sympathy from the community.

    Yousri says the traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members, including Halifax MP Andy Fillmore, who is trying to help some of the mother’s overseas relatives come to Canada.

    Following the funeral service, there will be a burial at a Muslim cemetery in Hammonds Plains.

    “(Kawthar Barho) doesn’t have family over here in Canada. She does not have friends as well here in Halifax because she moved here five months ago,” said Yousri on Friday.

    “That’s why we are trying to invite her to come see the support and let everybody gather.”

    Shuttles will be organized to and from the Cunard Centre to accommodate those who wish to attend, and ample parking is available at the centre.

    The children’s father — Ebraheim Barho — remained in hospital Friday recovering from extensive burns. He was in critical, but stable condition.

    Early Tuesday, the Quartz Drive house fire killed all of the Barho children: Ahmad, 14; Rola, 12; Mohamad, 9; Ola, 8; Hala, 3; Rana, 2 and Abdullah, who was born in Canada on Nov. 9.

    The cause of the fire remains unclear.

    The scale of the tragedy for the young family who arrived in Nova Scotia in September 2017 as refugees has struck a chord with Canadians.

    A GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $523,846 by late Friday afternoon, with a $1-million goal.

    The Barho family lived in Elmsdale, a 30-minute drive north of Halifax, when they first arrived in Nova Scotia and were embraced by residents there.

    They had moved to the Halifax suburb of Spryfield to take advantage of language training and other immigrant services, and had planned to return to Elmsdale next month.

    The family was among 1,795 Syrian refugees who have come to Nova Scotia in recent years. The Trudeau government granted asylum to 40,000 Syrian refugees in 2015-16.

    A brutal civil war has raged across Syria since 2011, claiming more than 400,000 lives.

    The Canadian Press




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