A man suspected of killing a US couple, kidnapping their teenage daughter and holding her captive for three months decided to abduct her after spotting her getting on a school bus, according to a criminal complaint.

Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, told investigators he was driving to his job at a cheese factory when he stopped behind a school bus and watched 13-year-old Jayme Closs get on.

At that moment, he said, “he knew that was the girl he was going to take”, the complaint said. Police have said the two did not know each other.

Prosecutors formally charged Patterson on Monday in the murders and the abduction in Barron, Wisconsin. He was also charged with armed robbery.

Jake Thomas PattersonJake Thomas Patterson (Barron County Sheriff’s Department/AP)

Patterson appeared in court by videolink from Barron County Jail. He sat expressionless as district attorney Brian Wright asked for 5 million dollars cash bail, arguing that Patterson is a flight risk and a danger to the public.

Judge James Babler granted the request, ordering Patterson to have no contact with Jayme if he posts bail.

Patterson spoke only to acknowledge that his name and address were correct on charging documents and that he agreed to waive a speedy preliminary hearing.

Investigators believe he broke into the Closs home in October and then hid Jayme in a remote cabin before she escaped on Thursday.

He had gone to the home twice intending to kidnap her but was not able to do it because too many people were around, the complaint said.

On the night she was abducted, Jayme told police, she was asleep in her room when the family dog started barking. She woke her parents as a car came up the driveway.

She and her mother Denise hid in the bathroom. They heard a gunshot and she knew her father James had just been killed, according to the complaint.

Denise Closs started to call 911. Patterson broke down the bathroom door, told her to hang up and taped Jayme’s mouth shut. Ms Closs complied and then Patterson shot her, the complaint said.

Patterson, who was dressed head to toe in black, taped Jayme’s hands and ankles and dragged her out to his car. He threw her in the trunk and drove away as sirens began to sound, the complaint said.

Police outside the home where James and Denise Closs were found fatally shotPolice outside the home where James and Denise Closs were found fatally shot (Jeff Baenen/AP)

He took her to a cabin that he said was his, ordered her into a bedroom and told her to take off her clothes. He put her clothes in a bag and talked about not having evidence.

Whenever he had friends over, he made clear that no one could know she was there or “bad things could happen to her” so she had to hide under the bed, according to the complaint.

Patterson’s defence lawyers, Charles Glynn and Richard Jones, said they believe he can get a fair trial, but they are not sure where.

“It’s been an emotional time for this community and a difficult time for this community. We don’t take that lightly. But we have a job to do in protecting our client,” Mr Jones said.

Police collected more than 3,500 tips following Jayme’s disappearance but no hard leads emerged.

Then on Thursday, a woman walking her dog spotted Jayme on a road near Gordon, a town about an hour’s drive north of Barron. The woman said the girl begged her for help, saying Patterson had been hiding her in a nearby cabin and that she had escaped when he left her alone.

Neighbours called 911 and officers arrested Patterson within minutes. He has no criminal history in Wisconsin.

Investigators say there is no evidence of any online interactions between Patterson and Jayme. Her family insists they did not know the man, and her grandfather Robert Naiberg told the Associated Press that Jayme told FBI agents she did not know Patterson.