SUPERIOR, Colo. (CBS4) – The hunt for a 10-year-old girl moved from her neighborhood in Westminster to Superior after the discovery of a backpack and water bottle believed to belong to the child.
Jessica Ridgeway disappeared on her way to school Friday morning. She never met her friends in the park that morning.
Ridgeway is now listed on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children list.
Westminster Police Ridgeway Case Tip Line: (303) 658-4336
The search shifted to Superior near Andrews and Alpha on Sunday after a homeowner found a water bottle and backpack on the sidewalk.
“Now investigators are working with that backpack. We do have reason to believe that it is directly associated with this case. We’re working with the family to make those confirmations,” Westminster police spokesman Trevor Materasso said.
Police also taped off an area where a paper bag was found. It’s not clear what was in the bag or how it’s relevant to the case.
Ridgeway is described as being 4-foot-10, 80 pounds with shoulder-length blonde hair and blue eyes. She was wearing blue jeans with a black puffy jacket with a pink lining, purple eyeglasses and black boots with pom-poms.
When Ridgeway didn’t arrive at Witt Elementary School Friday morning, Jeffco Schools officials tried to contact her mother. They made a call at 10 a.m. but were only able to leave a voicemail. Ridgeway’s mother, who works an overnight shift and sleeps during the day, didn’t get the message until 4:30 p.m. and immediately contacted Westminster police. It took almost five hours before the protocols were met in the case for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to call an Amber Alert.
Police said Ridgeway was last seen leaving her home to walk to school at 8:30 a.m. They said her normal routine is to walk about three blocks to Chelsea Park where she meets classmates and walks a little over a mile to the school in a group. They said she never met up with her friends.
Multiple police agencies were involved in the search over the weekend, including Westminster Police, K-9 teams, the FBI, the Adams County Sheriff’s Department and a Rampart Search and Rescue team. Some of that effort involved knocking on doors with flyers showing Ridgeway’s photo, stopping and talking to drivers, as well as contacting some residents by phone.
A dive team was also stationed at Ketner Reservoir near Ridgeway’s home and a helicopter was involved in the search on Sunday.
On Saturday volunteers were also busy searching in organized groups along trails, in parks and in open spaces but no such searches happened on Sunday.
Sheriff’s officials said they don’t want people to conduct random searches because that might interfere with a bloodhound team which is also searching in some areas.
Ridgeway’s family hasn’t spoken publicly about the case. Police said in a news release on Saturday that they are aware of a child custody dispute involving Ridgeway’s father. They wrote that out-of-state police “have been in contact with Jessica’s father and do not believe she is with him.”
Anyone with helpful information is asked to contact a Westminster police tip line at (303) 658-4336.