Home » Featured Stories, Local News for Newsletter, News » Sunday Is Amber Alert Awareness Day

Sunday Is Amber Alert Awareness Day

Sunday is the national observance of the Amber Alert.

January 13th marks 23 years since Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered in Arlington.

The Amber Alert Network Brazos Valley (AANBV), which was founded in part to assist law enforcement training in child abductions, has expanded to offer public awareness programs.

College Station assistant police chief Chuck Fleeger, who is president of the regional organization, says to call law enforcement right away if your child is missing.

On Friday, AANBV hosted its ninth annual Missing Children’s Day poster contest. The top three entries from this regional contest are forwarded to the Statewide judging conducted by the Texas Center for the Missing. First place went to Sarah Liu of Pecan Trail Intermediate School, second place to Owen Horrell of Pecan Trail, and third place to Chantal Valtierra of Oakwood Intermediate.

Click HERE to be directed to the Amber Alert Network Brazos Valley website.

Click below for comments from Chuck Fleeger, visiting with WTAW’s Bill Oliver:

Listen to “Sunday is National Amber Alert awareness day” on Spreaker.

More than 940 children have been successfully recovered as the result of the Amber Alert program, the most recent being Thursday night in Wisconsin.

BARRON, Wis. (AP) — A 21-year-old man killed a Wisconsin couple in a baffling scheme to kidnap their teenage daughter, then held the girl captive for three months before she narrowly managed to escape and reach safety as he drove around looking for her, authorities said.

Jayme Closs, 13, was skinny, disheveled and wearing shoes too big for her when she approached a stranger and pleaded for help Thursday in the small, isolated north woods town of Gordon, where police said she was being held by Jake Thomas Patterson.

Within minutes, Patterson was pulled over and jailed on kidnapping and homicide charges for what authorities said was his meticulously planned shotgun attack at the girl’s home in October.

The news that Jayme was safe set off joy and relief 60 miles (96 kilometers) away in her hometown of Barron, population 3,300, ending an all-out search that gripped the state, with many people fearing the worst the longer she was missing.

“My legs started to shake. It was awesome. The stress, the relief — it was awesome,” Barron County Sheriff Fitzgerald said, describing the moment he learned Jayme had been found.

Jayme told one of the neighbors in Gordon who took her in that she had walked away from a cabin where she had been held captive.

“She said that this person’s name was Jake Patterson, ‘he killed my parents and took me,'” said another neighbor, Kristin Kasinskas. “She did not talk about why or how. She said she did not know him.”

The sheriff said investigators are trying to figure out what happened to Jayme during her captivity and why she was seized, and gave no details on how she escaped except to say Patterson was not home at the time. He said there is no evidence Patterson knew Jayme or her family or had been in contact with her on social media.

“I know all of you are searching for the answer why any of this happened,” Fitzgerald said. “Believe me, so are we.”

The sheriff said that he did not know if Jayme had been physically abused but that she was hospitalized overnight for observation and released. Investigators were still interviewing her, and she was “doing as well as circumstances allow,” he said.

Kasinskas called 911 to report the girl had been found after another neighbor out walking her dog encountered Jayme and brought her to Kasinskas’ house. Patterson was apparently out looking for her when he was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy based on a description of his vehicle from Jayme, authorities said.

He was scheduled for an initial court appearance Monday. It was not immediately known whether the unemployed Patterson had an attorney.

Jayme’s grandfather, Robert Naiberg, said he had been praying for months for the call he received about his granddaughter.

“I thought, ‘Good for her she escaped,'” he said.

Jayme disappeared from her home near Barron after someone blasted his way in and shot her parents, James and Denise Closs, on Oct. 15. The sheriff said investigators believe Patterson killed them in order to abduct the girl.

Patterson took such measures as shaving his head beforehand to avoid leaving evidence at the scene, the sheriff said. A shotgun similar to the one used was recovered from the home where Jayme was believed held, according to Fitzgerald.

Property records show that the cabin belonged to Patterson’s father at the time of Jayme’s disappearance.

Patterson worked for one day in 2016 at the same Jennie-O turkey plant in Barron as Jayme’s parents, Jennie-O Turkey Store President Steve Lykken said. Patterson quit, saying he was moving from the area, Lykken said. But the sheriff said it did not appear Patterson interacted with the couple during his brief time there.

He had no criminal record, according to the sheriff. He graduated in 2015 from Northwood High School, where he was on the quiz bowl team and was a good student with a “great group of friends,” said District Superintendent Jean Serum.

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.”

The woman who first spotted Jayme on Thursday, Jeanne Nutter, said she was walking her dog along a rural road when a girl called out to her, grabbed her and revealed her name.

“She just yelled, ‘Please help me! I don’t know where I am! I’m lost!'” Nutter, a social worker who spent years working in child protection, told The Associated Press.

Nutter took her to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas. Jayme was quiet, her emotions “pretty flat,” Peter Kasinskas said. From what she told them, they believed she was in Gordon, a logging town of about 650 people, for most of the time she was missing.

Over the past few months, detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches for Jayme, including one that drew 2,000 volunteers but yielded no clues.

“It was only a few months ago that we as a community gathered to pray for Jayme’s safe return at Barron High School,” Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright said Friday. “God has answered those prayers.”

In November, the sheriff said 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 after witnesses recognized her abductors on an “America’s Most Wanted” episode.

Smart said in a telephone interview that Jayme’s story is “why we can never give up hope on any missing child.”

News release from the Amber Alert Network Brazos Valley:

Each year on January 13th, the U.S. Department of Justice, AMBER Alert Coordinators at the state, regional, tribal and local levels, state Missing Children Clearinghouses and AMBER Alert partners observe National Amber Alert Awareness Day in honor of Amber Hagerman and the establishment of a national AMBER Alert Program by the U.S. Department of Justice.

On January 13, 1996, Amber was abducted while riding her bicycle and then brutally murdered in Arlington, Texas. The AMBER Alert network was created after her tragic death to provide emergency broadcast messages to the public when law enforcement determines that a child has been abducted. AMBER Alert broadcasts include information about the child and the abductor, including physical descriptions and information about the abductor’s vehicle, which could lead to the child’s recovery.

To date over 940 children across the country have been successfully recovered as a result of the AMBER Alert Program.

Here in the Brazos Valley, Amber Alert Network Brazos Valley ( has partnered with law enforcement as well as local media to provide important information through its regional notification program since 2003. Additionally, the Brazos Valley Child Abduction Response Team (BVCART) was formed in 2010 and continues to train and work with local law enforcement agencies, emergency services personnel, search & rescue and other first responders to prepare for child abduction or missing child emergencies.

Today AANBV hosted its 9th Annual Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest at the College Station Police Department. The top three entries from this regional contest are forwarded to the Statewide judging conducted by the Texas Center for the Missing ( The winner from the Brazos Valley regional contest has represented the State of Texas at the National Contest three of the last four years. Our judges included Chief Scott McCollum from the College Station Police Department, Chief Eric Buske of the Bryan Police Department, Brazos County Jail Administrator Wayne Dicky, and Sylvia McMullen of the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley.

1st Place: Sarah Liu-Pecan Trail Intermediate
2nd Place: Owen Horrell-Pecan Trail Intermediate
3rd Place: Chantal Valtierra-Oakwood Intermediate

Share this article:

Short URL:

Posted by on Jan 11 2019. Filed under Featured Stories, Local News for Newsletter, News.
Listen Live to WTAW 1620

Follow WTAW & Stay Informed

Follow WTAW Twitter
Follow WTAW Facebook
Half Price Tuition

© 2019 WTAW. All Rights Reserved. Log in