For Paul and Carol Hable, of Bloomer, their cabin in Eau Claire Acres is a “little slice of heaven.” Paul said.
The description is in sharp contrast to the events that put the riverside community on the map.
Speaking Monday afternoon, Jan. 14, the couple said they never once thought that Jayme Closs would be held captive in their community, in a house right across the street.
For them, the area and their cabin is a home away from home.
“Very secluded, very quiet,” Paul said, adding it was common to see people walking their dogs around. Carol added it is one of their favorite spots to visit. They’ve owned the cabin for around 40 years.
They are close with some neighbors, but many of the newer owners, they are not familiar with.
Across the road is Patterson’s residence, which they can see from their cabin. Since the Patterson family moved in—eight years ago they estimated—the Hables hadn’t interacted much with the Pattersons.
Occasionally their dog would wander by and Carol would feed it treats. Patterson’s father came by to retrieve the dog once, and Paul said the father seemed like a nice guy.
Paul said he never met Jake Patterson, but only ever saw him or his brother when driving by.
The Patterson property was rather unkempt, with a number of vehicles in the driveway, Carol said. They hadn’t seen any cars like what investigators had talked about early on in the case—no Dodge Challenger, Ford Edge or Acura MDX.
It was their adult children who called them and told them of the news that Jayme had been found in Eau Claire Acres. It surprised Paul.
“It was unbelievable that this could happen and that she was alive,” Carol said.
They had been at their cabin from September to November this last year, before closing it up for the winter and returning to Bloomer.
Looking back, the Hables said they didn’t notice anything suspicious or out of the ordinary during this time. According to the criminal complaint filed in Barron County Circuit Court on Monday afternoon, Patterson had kept Jayme in his house for the duration of the 88 days she was held captive. He allegedly went to great lengths to keep her hidden and used threats to keep her under his control.
“It’s frightened our 12-year-old grandson,” Carol said. Since it was so close, “If it could happen to her, it could happen to us,” she said of her grandson’s concern.
But as more details come to light in the case, the Hables said they refuse to let the news tarnish the community they live in.
“It won’t deter us from going back to our cabin,” Carol said. The alleged actions of one man didn’t define the community as a whole, she said.
Paul said a neighbor told them they can’t believe it happened there. Carol added she refused to let it make them feel unsafe.