Live blog: Police warn a predator is on the loose
Posted on: 9:55 am, October 8, 2012, by Will C. Holden, updated on: 06:26pm, October 12, 2012
WESTMINSTER, Colo. — Police in Westminster turned their focus to finding the killer of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway Friday.
She was last seen walking to school at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 5. An Amber Alert was issued and the search for her began.
On Oct. 7, police got a break in the case when they discovered a backpack with Ridgeway’s name on it.
On Wednesday, police found a body in Pattridge Park Open Space park in Arvada, about 11 miles south of where that backpack was found.
One week after she disappeared, police said DNA confirmed the body found Wednesday was indeed Jessica.
For all the latest information on the search, follow the live blog below. It will be updated with real-time information throughout the day, and you do not have to refresh this page to get the latest.
If you have any information regarding the investigation, Westminster police are asking you to call the tip line at 303-658-4336, or email PDamberalert@cityofwestminster.us. You can also find more information on a Facebook page that has been set up by Ridgeway’s family.
Investigators have searched over 525 homes & 1000 vehicles in response to more than 1500 tips provided by the public.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation canceled the Amber Alert for Jessica Ridgeway
The FBI asked for the public’s help in finding the suspect who kidnapped and killed Jessica.
See a profile and potential behaviors the individual might display here: http://bit.ly/W8Ne02
Yacone asked everyone to keep reporting tips to authorities. The FBI reiterated “we’ve eliminated the family and we’re looking for an abductor at this point.”
If you have any information regarding the investigation, Westminster police are asking you to call the tip line at 303-658-4336, or email PDamberalert@cityofwestminster.us.
“There is a predator at large in our community. We are doing everything in our power to apprehend that predator,” chief Lee Birk says.
Jim Yacone of the FBI says the agency’s “commitment to seek justice will only grow.”
Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk confirms the identity of the body found earlier this week is Jessica Ridgeway. “Our focus has changed from a search for Jessica to a mission of justice for Jessica.”
Westminster police say agency heads will hold a news conference at 4 p.m. on the Jessica Ridgeway investigation. Officials haven’t said what information they will share. We will have live streaming coverage here: http://kdvr.com/on-air/live-streaming/
Jefferson County Schools encourage students and everyone in the community to wear purple on Friday, which will be one week after Jessica Ridgeway went missing. Purple is Jessica’s favorite color.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation may be ready Friday afternoon to release identity of body found at Pattridge Open Space Park in Arvada Wednesday.
Justin Joseph reports heightened urgency among law enforcement at Westminster Police headquarters. Read more here: http://bit.ly/Q3UyVq.
Arvada police spokeswoman Jill McGranahan says maintenance workers picking up trash found the body Wednesday in Pattridge Open Space Park.
Investigators have not said if the body is Jessica Ridgeway.
FBI spokesman issues urgent request: We need the public’s help’ finding a suspect who kidnapped Jessica Ridgeway. “It could be your boss, it could be your friend and ultimately it could be your family member.”
Read the profile and behaviors of a possible suspect here: http://bit.ly/W8Ne02
A fund has been established through the city of Westminster for the search and rescue of missing children:
Westminster Federal Credit Union
9053 Harlan St
Westminster CO 80031
Jefferson County Schools and Jefferson County mental health services establish crisis center for anyone who feels like they want talk to a professional about the impact the developments in the Jessica Ridgeway investigation have had on them. The center in the Wells Fargo building at 7878 Wadsworth Blvd. It’s open tonight until 8 p.m. and tomorrow from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
@WestminsterPD Twitter message Thursday afternoon: We continue to seek tips in this case. If you think you may have information that will help investigators, please call 303-658-4336.”
35 agencies and hundreds of officers/personnel continue to canvas neighborhoods and conduct open field searches according to Westminster police.
The search command post moved to 86th and Simms Thursday afternoon. Westminster police say it will continue to move with the search efforts.
Westminster Police have just said via Twitter that they “hope for a positive ID” of the body discovered in Pattridge Park “by tomorrow.”
“There will be a formal press conference once we have a positive ID,” the Tweet concluded.
Follow Westminster PD on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/WestminsterPD
Police say they will hold a press conference “sometime tomorrow” with all of the agency heads who have been assisting with the search for Ridgeway.
Acknowledging that the media has helicopter footage that confirms it, Westminster police have just also confirmed that the body they have discovered in Arvada is “not intact.”
There is still no confirmation about whether or not this is Ridgeway’s body.
Police are going to hold a hastily-scheduled press conference at 12:15 p.m. to “answer a question that has been raised.”
We’re attempting to get a live feed from that press conference. If we get it, you can find it here: http://kdvr.com/on-air/live-streaming/
Stay tuned to this blog for the latest information, either way.
Based on how the search for Jessica Ridgeway has gone, our Josh Bernstein doesn’t think we’ll hear much from police over the next two days after the body was found in Arvada.
The Emmy-winning investigative reporter finds that troubling. “Is there a killer on the loose?” he asks. “I think the public has a right to know.”
Then visit the link that follows here and tell us if you agree with him: http://www.facebook.com/fox31denver/posts/205024999629373
Police just found and towed a station wagon abandoned behind a Walmart in New Hampshire. A Maine woman said she spotted a girl matching Jessica Ridgeway’s description in a similar vehicle Sunday.
See a photo of the vehicle and read more: http://kdvr.com/2012/10/11/n-h-police-abandoned-car-may-be-connected-to-jessica-ridgeway-search/
Westminster police addressed the media this morning. Here is a quick synopsis of the information they provided.
Police are still working the crime scene in the Pattridge Park Open Space area in Arvada. They are still not identifying the body or giving any indication about whether or not it is related to the search for Ridgeway.
A good deal of officers will be out and about in the open space area.
Hwy 93 will remain closed in large stretches today.
The canvases and search for Ridgeway will continue Thursday, along with some additional open space area searches.
Police did not take any questions.
Police are still not confirming whether or not the body discovered in Arvada is related to the search for Ridgeway. They are not identifying the body at this time, either.
We’ve heard reports from the field that many police officers arrived to the Westminster Police Department just before the press conference at 6:45 a.m.
Police will address the media regarding the search for Jessica Ridgeway and whether or not it’s related to the body discovered in Arvada yesterday.
Watch that address live here: http://kdvr.com/on-air/live-streaming/
Westminster police say they will not release any more information Wednesday night. Their next news conference will happen Thursday at 6:30 a.m. Watch live streaming coverage here: http://kdvr.com/on-air/live-streaming.
Westminster police and Arvada police working together. The crime scene at Partridge Park Open Space will remain in place into Thursday. Partirdge Park is off 80th Ave and it’s connected to Arvada Reservoir and Tucker Lake
Police say a body was discovered in an open space area in Arvada Wednesday afternoon. Investigators have not confirmed if the body is connected to the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway
Westminster police called a news conference for 7:30 p.m. to report developments in the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway.
Tips are coming to Westminster police from all over the United States.
Police will not comment on what specifically led them to clear the parents.
The investigation into her disappearance is focusing on an unknown suspect.
Westminster police have cleared the parents of Jessica Ridgeway in her disappearance, according to spokesman Trevor Materasso
Westminster Police will hold a news conference to update the search for Jessica Ridgeway. Watch live streaming video here: http://kdvr.com/on-air/live-streaming
Police have been looking into sex offenders since the beginning of this investigation. It’s a standard procedure, Materasso said.
Witt Elementary School — the school Ridgeway was walking to when she went missing on Friday — is on a lockout. A lockout, Materasso said, allows the school to operate on a normal schedule. All doors are locked to the building only because there are so much law enforcement canvassing the area.
Police have received calls on Dexter, Maine, but this only one tip of hundreds that Westminster Police have received. Police have received over 100 tips from across the country.
Likely as a response to the news out of Maine today, Westminster Police spokesman Trevor From Materasso just held a quick news conference at 11:30 a.m. The following will be a few of the updates provided…
In lieu of the news out of Maine, Westminster Police are now saying that they have received tips from Maryland, Nevada, Texas and Wyoming in addition to the country’ northeastern-most state.
We’ve just gotten this from a Dexter Police sergeant:
“A woman called Dexter Police Tuesday after noticing an amber alert via the internet. On Sunday afternoon around 4 p.m. (EST), this woman noticed a girl who looked like Jessica. The woman did not report the sighting at that time, because she was unaware of the amber alert.
“The girl matching Jessica’s description was spotted inside the car around the area of Springs Street in Dexter. The girl never left the car. Police have put out an alert for a light blue, mid 90s station wagon with ‘fancy,’ 5-spoke chrome wheels. The vehicle has a Colorado license plate, but an unknown license plate number.”
The Sergeant went on to emphasize this is a possible sighting. There is no confirmation that this is Jessica, but he said his department is taking this report very seriously.
We have gotten in touch with Maine police, who have said that while many young children look alike, they are taking this report very seriously.
Maine TV station WABI is heading to the town of Dexter, population 5,000, to speak with people who have reportedly spotted Ridgeway.
We’ll have more as soon as we get it.
Police: A girl matching Jessica Ridgeway’s description has been spotted multiple times in Maine
There is no reason for us to believe that Jessica Ridgeway isn’t alive and well.
Despite reports, Materasso said police have not identified a black truck that may be involved in this case. He said police are still not asking the public to focus on any particular vehicle or person of interest.
Police said they have received over 600 calls to their tip line and have added staff to help field further calls. You can get in touch with that tip line at 303-658-4336.
Police are aware of the case of a missing 11-year-old in Cody, Wyo. They are coordinating with the team investigating that disappearance in a joint investigation to find out if either case in connected.
We were working with teams that collect garbage and run landfills on Friday and Saturday. The garbage from those days has been collected and quarantined. This is nothing but a precautionary measure.
Westminster police spokesman Trevor Materasso just addressed the media Wednesday morning:
He started by saying that #JessicaRidgeway is now the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter, which is a good thing for investigators as they continue to monitor those feeds for new information.
Traci Brown, whose services have been called on to interpret body language in several presidential debates, says that while members of Ridgeway’s family are not polished public speakers, their body language during their public statement on Tuesday indicated they’re not being deceitful.
That said, Brown did say one of the responses from Sarah, Jessica’s mother, did arouse a bit of suspicion.
Find out which response Brown was referring to: http://kdvr.com/2012/10/09/body-language-expert-jessica-ridgeways-parents-are-truthful/
Hundreds of people came together at two different prayer vigils last night for Jessica. They came together with flash lights and candles to “light the way home” for Jessica.
Read more, and see video from both vigils: http://kdvr.com/2012/10/08/dual-prayer-vigils-set-for-jessica-ridgeway-in-westminster-superior-tuesday/
Police removed several items from the home of Jessica Ridgeway in their search yesterday, which was performed while the family was giving their first public statement at the Westminster Police Department.
Find out what police were looking for: http://kdvr.com/2012/10/09/fbi-searches-jessica-ridgeways-home/
Concern may be spiking as the search for Jessica Ridgeway enters day six, but a former FBI special agent with 30 years of experience told FOX31 that “there is still a very real possibility that this story will have a happy ending.”
Westminster police points out Jessica Ridgeway has some unique features like a gap in her teeth and a sore on her nose. See an updated photo gallery with two dozen pictures of Jessica in it here: http://kdvr.com/2012/10/08/photo-gallery-pictures-of-missing-girl-jessica-ridgeway/
Operators of the landfill at Hampden and Tower Rd. in Arapahoe County have been told to keep workers and trash away from area that garbage from Jessica Ridgeway’s neighborhood has been dumped during the last few days. While there has been no police activity at the dump, police want the integrity of that area maintained, just in case the investigation takes them there in the future.
Jessica Ridgeway’s family has completed its first public statement.
They commented on the last morning they saw her, the 10-year-old’s personality, the safety of their neighborhood and why they didn’t immediately receiving the notifications that Jessica had gone missing.
Watch the uncut, raw video of that 30-minute statement here: http://kdvr.com/2012/10/09/family-of-jessica-ridgeway-makes-first-public-statement/
FOX31 Denver’s Justin Joseph is in the neighborhood where Jessica lives this afternoon. He reports the FBI has concluded a search of Jessica Ridgeway’s home. Agents removed several bags of evidence
Westminster police says short of a major break in the case, there will not be an additional press briefing Tuesday.
Jessica Ridgeway’s mother, Sarah, was just asked about any insinuations that she had kidnapped Jessica. Her response:
“I know I didn’t do anything. Everybody in this room knows I didn’t do anything. I know Jeremy (father) didn’t do anything. Everybody who knows me, knows her and knows our family knows we didn’t do anything.”
Ridgeway’s father, Jeremiah Bryant, was asked the same question. This was his response:
“When I sat down with the FBI, they asked me if they thought my wife did it. I said, there’s no way. The same way she’d tell them there’s no way I would do anything like that. I don’t see how anyone could do that to their child.”
Ridgeway’s father Jeremiah Bryant appears very broken up — more than the rest. He described hearing the news that they had found his daughter’s backpack:
“I was at work, it was about time to get off work and I got a phone call saying that they found her backpack and water bottle. I told my boss I had to leave. I couldn’t stay. I’ve been lost every since.”
Jessica Ridgeway’s mother talking about the morning her daughter went missing:
“It was any other morning. Her alarm goes off at 7:45. She wanted her alarm clock so she could get up on her own. She comes down, she watches T.V., she eats her granola bar, she goes up and gets dressed, we peel oranges for her snack. She does everything on her own – she wants to be a teenager before she’s a teenager.
“I watch her walk out the door with her friend, who said she was walking too. That was the last time I saw her. I want her to walk back through that door. I need her to walk back through that door.”
This is a photo from the public statement Jessica Ridgeway’s family is currently making at the Westminster Police Department. Ridgeway’s father is wearing orange in the front row on the far left and her mother is wearing purple with black pants and a white undershirt (second from right, front).
We will have the video from this statement shortly.
Up until today, it had been a mystery as to who created the now-viral “Missing Jessica Ridgeway” Facebook page. The page has been flooded with information and now has over 24,000 fans. You can find that page here: http://www.facebook.com/MissingJessicaRidgeway
Though the woman who created the page wants to remain anonymous, she just released this statement to FOX31 through Volunteer for Missing Jessica Ridge Public Information Officer Miki Lynes:
This is to respond to the question as to who and why our Facebook page was made. The maker of our page would like to remain anonymous. She is a Mother who was deeply touched when hearing of Jessica’s disappearance in her own neighborhood. She knew social media is an awesome way to get the word out to the general public. All of us want Jessica brought home safely and hope our Facebook page, saturating the internet and posting flyers all over Colorado and the United States will bring her home safely.
Thank you for your spreading the word and Jessica’s picture.
Miki Lynes, PIO
Volunteer for Missing Jessica Ridgeway”
The FBI has arrived at the home of Ridgeway’s mother and will be escorting her to the Westminster Police Department. There, the family will record their first public statement.
We’ll have it for you as soon as we get it.
Materasso added that authorities have identified 400 homes in the area where Ridgeway went missing that they need to search.
Materasso said that search is “approximately 54 percent complete.” That means there are still a little less than 200 homeowners that will be getting a call from police in the coming hours and days.
“They may have information that they’re unaware will aid in our investigation,” Materasso said.
Westminster police spokesman Trevor Materasso just addressed the media again at 9:30 a.m.
The biggest update that came from that briefing was this: Jessica Ridgeway’s family will be coming out with a public statement. Materasso said the family will speak with one reporter in a private pool interview that will be released to the public later today.
Materasso said the family had planned to go public with a statement on Sunday, but the “emotional turmoil” that took place regarding the discovery of Ridgeway’s backpack caused the family to cancel that statement.
The third of three new images of Jessica police have just released.
The second of three new images of Jessica police have just released.
One of three new images of Jessica police have just released.
Police are about to address the media for a second time this morning.
Watch that press conference live here: http://kdvr.com/on-air/live-streaming/
Police have just released the first video footage of Jessica Ridgeway.
Materasso at Tuesday morning’s briefing:
We don’t want to miss anything, so we’re going to go over some houses several times. We just want to cover our tracks, especially in the area where Jessica disappeared from. There is nothing specific keeping us in that area aside from that aforementioned fact.
Materasso at Tuesday morning’s briefing:
We did bring out a dive team yesterday like we did on Saturday. That was just to rule out bodies of water as a source of information. We have no indication that we’re going to find anything in water.
Materasso at Tuesday morning’s briefing:
Our focus is on abduction. We aren’t treating this case as if this girl ran away.
Materasso at Tuesday morning’s briefing:
The family has been cooperating, but they have not been asked to take a polygraph.
From Westminster police spokesman Trevor Materasso at Tuesday morning’s briefing:
Two main focuses today are the canvasses occurring in and around Jessica’s home. There are also some open fields that the search crews will focus on.
Police do not plan to issue any additional updates about their investigation Monday unless there are significant developments. The next news conference is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Two prayer gatherings for Jessica Ridgeway are scheduled to happen at the same time Tuesday night. Details: http://bit.ly/SZIDbQ
Dive team seen at pond as part of search for Jessica Ridgeway. They have searched a number of bodies of water since her disappearance Friday.
FBI, police search home and vehicle of neighbor of Jessica Ridgeway. Justin Joseph reports two registered sex offenders live near this home.
Westminster police released several photos of Jessica Ridgeway. See them here: http://bit.ly/R0QENH
FOX31 has obtained exclusive information about Ridgeway’s father, Jeremiah Bryant, who is involved in a now-public custody dispute regarding his missing daughter.
According to court documents, Bryant is currently on felony probation.
Westminster PD does have a witness providing information that makes police believe Ridgeway was on her way to school but did not make it.
The FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have become involved with the search because of the organizations’ expertise in searching open areas. Those institutions have also been working with Ridgeway’s family in Missouri.
Missouri is home to Ridgeway’s father, who is currently involved in a custody dispute for Jessica.
Again, from Westminster police spokesman Trevor Materasso: Police have taken DNA samples from Ridgeway’s family members
There is new information from a 12:15 p.m. police press conference…
Right click on the above image and select “Open image in new tab” to open a printable Jessica Ridgeway missing child poster. Police are encouraging citizens to print this poster and take it around to businesses in your area.
We’re going live with new updates on the search. You can watch our live update here: http://kdvr.com/on-air/live-streaming/
Materasso on what you can do to help the search:
“We are not asking for additional volunteers at this time. If you would like to help pass out flyers, however, please contact the Westminster police department at 303-658-4360.”
Materasso on a potential custody battle going on for Ridgeway:
“There was a father living out of state, and we do know of some custody concerns going on in an out-of-state court. But when it comes to the specific details, I don’t know.”
Materasso on Monday’s search area:
“There will be large group doing open area searches. That search area will be from Hwy 128 to Hwy 93. That area will also include El Dorado Canyon and back along Hwy 6. That area forms a triangle.
“We have 12 agencies, numbering about 125 people, who are searching area. They’re using similar resources from Saturday.
“But we don’t want people just to focus on this search area. We want everyone across the state keeping their eyes open.”
Materasso on potential person of interest:
“We do not have any persons of interest at this time.
“We don’t have reason to believe there is a person going around abducting children. We are taking precautionary steps, though. That’s why we’re putting law enforcement at schools. We’re also talking to parents to talk with their children about what is going on.”
Materasso on the backpack discovered Sunday:
“We don’t know when backpack was put there. (For more on the backpack’s discovery, click this link: http://kdvr.com/2012/10/07/search-for-ridgeway-moves-to-superior/).
“There’s a good chance that kids may have gone by that backpack on the weekend and not said anything. Talk to your kids. They’re aware now that a girl is missing. We don’t want kids to think they’ve done something wrong. We need their help to find Jessica.”
From Materasso: “There has been a lot of discussion about the clothing Jessica was last seen wearing. Considering the amount of time since (she was last seen), there’s a chance she’s changed clothing. We want to urge the community to really focus on Jessica’s appearance. If you see flyer, really focus on Jessica’s facial features so you know what she looks like. That way if you see her with different clothing, you’re looking at her face, not at her clothing.”
Westminster police spokesman Trevor Materasso just addressed the media at a Monday morning press conference. Here’s is some of the information he released regarding the search for Jessica Ridgeway, which has now reached day 4: