A GoFundMe page that seeks to raise funds for escaped kidnap victim Jayme Closs is a legitimate enterprise, a member of the Closs family said this week.

The confirmation came just a few days before the next court appearance for the suspect in Jayme’s kidnapping and the shooting deaths of her parents, James and Denise Closs, on Oct. 15, 2018.

Suzi Allard, of Cornell, Jayme’s aunt and a sister to shooting victim Denise Closs, verified the legitimacy of the GoFundMe page on Saturday, Feb. 2.

In a social media message to the News-Shield from the “Healing for Jayme Closs” Facebook page, Allard confirmed the legitimacy of the page entitled “Jayme is home, help heal her heart.”

On Feb. 1, the Chetek Alert received an unsolicited message from GoFundMe spokesperson Meghan Scripture.

“I saw you have been covering the Jayme Closs story and wanted to make sure you had seen the latest update,” she said.

Scripture added a message posted Jan. 30 on the page by Jennifer Smith, of Cameron, who is taking care of Jayme along with her husband, Bob.

“Jayme is doing pretty good,” Smith said. “We love to see her smile and, even more, laugh with a few of her close friends.

“We have a long road of healing and recovery as we move forward, small steps,” the post said.

At the same time, Allard said, there is also an active account for Jayme Closs at Sterling Bank, which has branches at Barron, Chetek, Luck and Rice Lake.

The Closs Family Benefit account was established by the Smith family during the third week of October 2018.

Preliminary hearing

set for Feb. 6

The suspect accused in the murders of James and Denise Closs and the abduction of their daughter is scheduled for a preliminary hearing at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6, before Circuit Court Judge James C. Babler.

Jake T. Patterson, 21, of rural Gordon, Douglas County, has been in jail since his arrest on Jan. 10, which took place within minutes of Jayme Closs’ escape from the home owned by the suspect’s family in the Eau Claire Acres subdivision, nine miles east of Gordon.

Patterson has already made an initial appearance on Jan. 14, and was jailed on $5 million cash bond.

According to Wisconsin law, a preliminary hearing is set to allow the prosecution to show a reason to believe a defendant probably committed a felony crime. In most cases, a witness (often a police officer) identifies a defendant who possibly committed the crime.

The law was amended in 2011 to allow the court to admit hearsay (that is, the indirect knowledge of another person) as admissible evidence in making its ruling.

Preliminary hearings often conclude with a ruling from the bench that ‘binds over” the defendant for trial.

Two prosecutors are in charge of the Barron County case, including District Attorney Brian Wright and Assistant Wisconsin Attorney General Annie Jay. Jay’s online profile indicates she has worked for the Attorney General’s office since January 2014, and specializes in “complex felony cases.” Prior to joining the Attorney General’s office, Jay was an assistant District Attorney for Kenosha County.

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