On January 10, 2019, the search for missing 13-year-old Jayme Closs ended roughly an hour away from her home in the small townof Gordon. Shortly after she was found, officers arrested 21-year-old Jake Patterson, the man accused of kidnapping Jayme and kiling her parents. By now, most people have heard of what happened in Gordon, but few actually know about the town itself.
According to the criminal complaint, Jayme was kept at Patterson’s home on Eau Claire Acres Circle Road under his bed. She was also trapped with totes and heavy weights blocking her path to freedom. That is until one Thursday afternoon when she was able to crawl her way out from Patterson’s makeshift prison.
With only a sweatshirt, leggings and a pair of men’s shoes, Jayme made her getaway into the brisk Wisconsin weather. She soon spotted a woman walking her dog and was brought to the home of the Kasinskas family, who contacted the authorities.
In less than 12 hours, police, SWAT teams and every national news organization flooded the small town while the mugshot of Gordon’s most notorious resident was plastered online. A town known once known for its hunting and ice fishing was now the center of one of the biggest criminal cases of 2019.
“It totally blew everybody’s mind here,” said Darin Knowlton, the bartender at the nearby Bootlegger’s Bar & Grill, “Nobody had any inkling that she could’ve been in Gordon.”
Patterson attended the local school district from kindergarten to graduation, but those outside of his class didn’t know much about the 21-year-old. “I’ve never seen him in (Bootlegger’s) and we’ve had this place for 18 years,” continued Knowlton.
It hasn’t been a month since Patterson’s arrest, but with the crime scene cleared and news trucks gone, residents say they’re ready to move on. After all, when you peel back the layers of the national spotlight, the Town of Gordon is much more than just one bad egg.
“Going out to eat is fun here,” says Tod Wise, a wrestling coach at the local Northwood School District. “There’s a good variety of food. Believe it or not, the pizza around here is great.”
“Wintertime snowmobilers, summertime four-wheelers, that’s where most of the business comes from,” said Knowlton.
Dan Rankila, a local business owner at Northwoods Heating & Cooling, claims there’s more to Gordon than meets the eye. “Locals up here will call it God’s country, and that’s what this is, it’s God’s country,” he says. “We just love the area (and the) environment.”
Yes, there’s certainly a lot to love about the Town of Gordon, but if there’s anything to take away from this small community, it’s the people who make it God’s country.