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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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Metis leaders raise concerns about national council, call for reform

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OTTAWA — The regional Metis presidents of Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan are calling for reform of the Metis National Council, raising serious concerns about “dysfunction” and about a lack of transparency on the national body’s finances and administration.

Metis National Council vice-president David Chartrand rejects the allegations, saying the “real issue” involves concerns about the way the Ontario Metis government defines people as Metis, and the national body has told the Ontario body its membership in the governance institutions of the Metis Nation is suspended.

“This is about the very essence of protecting our nation,” Chartrand said.

Last week, the presidents of the Metis Nation of Ontario, the Metis Nation-Saskatchewan and the Metis Nation of Alberta — three of the national body’s five components, along with a similar group in British Columbia and one Manitoba, which Chartrand leads — met for two days to discuss ways to co-operate and to negotiate more directly with the federal government, circumventing the national council.

Last June, these same three regions each signed self-governing agreements with Ottawa. That’s the first time the federal government has signed such arrangements with Metis groups following recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions formally recognizing Metis rights and that they’re part of federal financial responsibilities.

The Metis Nation of Ontario’s president Margaret Froh said the meeting was positive, aimed at building on those agreements by working together and sharing ideas to help their communities.

“There was incredible goodwill, it was a respectful environment. We had an opportunity to talk about things like our registries, to talk about all the work that’s gone into our history, our governance, how it is that we manage our registry, the programs and services that we’re offering,” Froh said.

But the three leaders also discussed concerns they share about governance at the Metis National Council (MNC).

They issued a declaration that the MNC “has become increasingly dysfunctional and unaccountable to its governing members and the Metis citizens.”

They point to the fact the national council has not held a board of governors meeting in over 14 months, despite repeated requests for one.

Despite this, MNC president Clement Chartier sent a letter to Froh earlier this week advising her the Metis Nation of Ontario is suspended and no longer eligible to participate in the governance of the national council.

Alberta president Audrey Poitras said the MNC doesn’t have the authority to do this. A suspension can only be imposed by members at a general assembly meeting, she said, and she “absolutely” doesn’t accept that Ontario has been suspended.

The concerns about Ontario involve its citizenship registry. In August 2017, the provincial government and the Metis Nation of Ontario held a joint announcement outlining work by historians that had identified six new Metis communities in the province.

This sparked concerns in the national leadership that Ontario is allowing people who may not be Metis into its registry, and in doing so, is violating an agreement struck in 2002 among all the regional governments on an official citizenship definition.

The question of Metis identity is delicate, and fundamental. The Metis are descended from European fur traders and First Nations people, who intermingled beginning in the 18th century. But it’s only in the 1980s that the Canadian government recognized the Metis as an Indigenous People with rights under Canadian law. And only in 2003 did the Supreme Court of Canada rule that the Metis are a nation distinct from other Indigenous people with rights protected by the Constitution.

Chartrand does not believe the new communities are legitimate.

“They are not part of us, never were. There is no connection historically in any way or fashion that they can use as even an argument to say that they are part of our nation,” Chartrand said.

He believes allowing these new communities to become part of the Metis Nation could undermine its integrity by flooding the Metis nations with “hundreds of thousands, potentially millions, of people into our nation that aren’t us,” Chartrand said.

“It’s something we must clearly be fearful of as a people, because we cannot allow anybody to try to water down and create a special interest group of a nation, instead of a citizen of a nation.”

In November 2018 Chartrand brought these concerns to a general assembly and a resolution was passed that placed Ontario on probation. It called for an external committee to review Ontario’s membership registry.

But Ontario has refused to allow it. Froh said the registry belongs to her government and contains a large amount of sensitive, personal information.

The Ontario nation hired a historical expert to conduct its own review of the files, which Froh believes should help satisfy the concerns raised by Chartrand and others. She also called Chartrand’s concerns about thousands or millions of new citizens being added by Ontario “absurd,” noting her province’s registry has only about 20,000 members.

“What we have said is, we have and will complete this independent review … and we’ll be in a position to be able to talk about it, but we’re not prepared to simply open up our registry and all of that personal information to outsiders,” she said.

Poitras, the Albera leader, said she doesn’t have a problem with Ontario’s registry and doesn’t understand Chartrand’s concerns. She continues to call for a board meeting to discuss them.

“What we want is transparency and accountability, and if somebody is doing something wrong, let’s talk about what that wrong is and let’s fix it.”

The “tri-council” also raised questions about the finances and governance of the MNC in its resolution last week, including calls for more transparency about financial audits, and limits on amounts spent on consultants.

The three leaders called for a working group to discuss reforming the MNC “or the creation of a new national structure to better represent the interests of Metis governments.”

Their resolution also says they will continue to work through the MNC on funding negotiations until after the 2020 federal budget is released, as those talks are already underway. But they’re asking to negotiate directly with Ottawa in the future on program and service funding and to ensure money goes to Metis citizens and governments “without allocations to the MNC.”

Chartrand brushed aside the tri-council’s concerns, calling them “smoke and mirrors” designed to distract from a “backroom deal” brokered among the leaders.

Froh said she hopes the politics involved in these issues doesn’t overshadow the progress that has been achieved when it comes to Metis governments finally getting recognition by the federal government.

“I don’t want people to lose track of the amazing thing that happened last week in that we, as Metis governments, came together, recognizing each other. That is what being self-determining is about, that’s what leadership is about: coming together to work together to move the yardstick forward to advance true reconciliation.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

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Canadian Forces sending plane and crew to help fight Australia’s fires

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OTTAWA — Canada is sending a military transport plane and about 15 personnel to help fight bushfires in Australia.

The Canadian Forces say the CC-17 Globemaster is leaving Monday.

The plane and crew are to transport fire retardant from the United States, free up Australian airlift capacity and take images of fires from the air to measure them and predict how they might spread.

They’re going as part of Operation Renaissance, a standing mission that sends military help to other countries coping with natural disasters.

Canada has already sent about 100 firefighters and experts to Australia to help combat the fires that have consumed millions of hectares of bush, particularly in the southeastern part of the country.

Last week a Canadian-owned air tanker crashed as it dropped a load of fire retardant in an alpine valley, killing its three American crew.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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january, 2020

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sun12jan(jan 12)2:00 pmsun22mar(mar 22)5:00 pmAnne Frank: A History for Today opening at Red Deer MAG2:00 pm - (march 22) 5:00 pm mst Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery Address: 4525 - 47A Avenue, Red Deer

mon27jan11:15 am1:15 pmLuncheon With Arlene Dickinson11:15 am - 1:15 pm Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre, 3310 50 Avenue

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