The 21-year-old suspect accused of kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs after allegedly killing her parents was withdrawn and isolated as a high school student, a former classmate of Jake Thomas Patterson‘s tells PEOPLE.
The classmate and former lab partner — who asked not to be identified — tells PEOPLE that Patterson “wasn’t the guy with school spirit.” The classmate adds, “He didn’t go to games or care about that stuff. He just ignored everyone and everyone ignored him.”
Patterson will stand before a Wisconsin judge Monday afternoon for his arraignment, where it’s expected prosecutors will formally charge him with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one of kidnapping.
Investigators allege Patterson fatally shot Jayme’s parents James, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, in the family’s home on the outskirts of Barron, Wisconsin, on Oct. 15. Subsequently, he allegedly fled the scene with Jayme and held her captive for nearly three months at a home in Gordon, about 70 miles away.
Last week, Jayme escaped after the suspect allegedly left the home. She sought help from a woman walking her dog, who then brought her to a neighbor’s home. Police stopped the suspect as he was driving around looking for Jayme, authorities believe.
Authorities have said the alleged abduction of Jayme was the suspect’s goal in the crime and that Jayme was “the only target.” Police have said the suspect had no direct contact with Jayme’s parents, but the three did work for about a day at the same turkey plant three years ago.
‘If It Was Just You and Him in a Room, No One Would Talk’
PEOPLE learns that Patterson graduated in 2015 from Northwood High School in Minong, Wisconsin. The student body there was small; there were only 34 other members of Patterson’s graduating class.
Schoolmates remember Patterson as quiet and withdrawn. His yearbook notes his only extracurricular activity was as a member of the Quiz Bowl team. His senior yearbook quote was “I’m finally done with school.”
Most of Thomas’ classmates did not want to talk about him to PEOPLE. But Brooke Keller, who was two years ahead of Patterson in school, did speak about him, saying she only remembers him because the school was so small.
“Honestly, he didn’t stand out at all,” Keller tells PEOPLE. “I can’t tell you a single story about him, because he didn’t do anything. If it was just you and him in a room, no one would talk.”
Keller says she did speak to Patterson “when I had to,” but says he’d respond “with one-word answers, or not even answer at all. I don’t know a thing about his life. He’d sit alone at lunch, or with a couple other kids, but no one would talk at the lunch table.”
Patterson’s public defenders, Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, issued a joint statement on the allegations, according to local media reports.
“This is a very tragic situation,” reads the statement. “There is a substantial amount of information, interest, and emotion involved in this case. Mr. Patterson’s legal team will be relying on the integrity of our judicial system to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected and respected.”
PEOPLE has reached out to the two lawyers for additional comment.
Patterson is currently in the Barron County Jail.
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Patterson’s former lab partner says the accused regularly wore the same clothing to school.
“He was a loner, but I didn’t think of him as being rude,” the classmate recalls. “He was really awkward in conversation.”
“I remember I asked him what type of music he liked, and he stuttered and got all flustered and couldn’t give me an answer,” the classmate says. “I was just trying to make conversation, because we had chem lab together and I figured I might as well talk to him.”
When it came to the class assignments, Patterson was fine, “but he couldn’t talk about anything personal. He didn’t know how to talk about himself.”
He adds that he never saw Patterson interact with any of his female classmates.
“He definitely never had a girlfriend, and he had no girls as friends that I knew of,” the former lab partner tells PEOPLE. “I don’t know if I ever saw him talking with any girls. He didn’t date. I don’t think he went to prom or homecoming, actually I know he didn’t. I never saw him out with girls at the movies — there’s not a lot to do here, so most dates are movie dates. Actually, I never saw him at the movies.”
The one time the classmate did see Patterson outside of school, it was at a convenience store. He claims Patterson ignored him, “like he had no idea who I was.”
Jayme’s aunt, Jennifer Smith, who was seen with a smiling Jayme in the first photo of the teen since her escape, has vowed to do whatever it takes to keep Jayme safe.
“As a family we will get through all of the healing process Jayme has. It will be a long road but we are family strong and we love this little girl so much!!” she wrote, adding that her “beloved sister” and brother-in-law can rest in peace knowing that their daughter “is safe.”
“We will make sure forever,” she added.
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