Killings of four people in Wisconsin possibly inspired by Jayme Closs case, sheriff says

Authorities in Wisconsin say a man suspected of killing four people may have been imitating the abduction last year of teenager Jayme Closs.
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A Lake Hallie Police officer works outside a home July 29, 2019, in Lake Hallie, Wisconsin following a shooting the night before. Authorities in northwestern Wisconsin say shootings at two homes have left five people dead, including the suspected shooter, and two others injured.Renee Jones Schneider / Star Tribune via AP

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By Associated Press

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wisconsin — Authorities in Wisconsin say a man suspected of killing four people may have been imitating the abduction last year of teenager Jayme Closs.

Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk said Tuesday that investigators may never know exactly what led to the Sunday attacks. He says Ritchie German Jr., 34, killed three of his family members and later killed a 24-year-old woman at another home before killing himself.

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Kowalczyk says German used a shotgun to blast his way into the woman's home, and then shot and wounded her parents. Authorities also say German left his car running with items inside that suggested similarities to the Closs case.

They wouldn't elaborate on those items.

Chief Deputy Chad Holum says if abduction was intended, "it did not work out for him."

Kowalczyk says German had texted the 24-year-old woman inquiring about a personal relationship, but she texted back saying she didn't know him.

Jayme Closs was abducted from her parents' home last fall in Barron, just 40 miles from the site of the most recent slayings. Jayme's parents were killed, but she eventually escaped from her abductor.

Investigators say German began the Sunday attacks by fatally shooting his mother, brother and brother's 8-year-old son at their home in Lafayette.

He then went to a home in nearby Lake Hallie and killed a 24-year-old woman and wounded her parents. German was found dead there, but authorities haven't said whether he killed himself.