WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4)– A community remembers Jessica Ridgeway after police identified the body found on Tuesday in Arvada open space as that of the 10-year-old girl who went missing Oct. 5.
A display of hope at Chelsea Park near where she disappeared has turned into a community memorial after the grim news was announced Friday afternoon. Police said they will continue to search for Jessica’s abductor.
The memorial also serves as a stark reminder to those who pass how a simple walk to school can present a grave danger.
Children left messages on the sign where Jessica was supposed to meet her friends on the morning of Oct. 5.
“I wrote how I feel bad for Jessica because nobody would ever want that to happen to their kids or anybody else’s kids for that matter,” said Jessi Hebein.
Parents are weary knowing that Jessica’s killer could be anywhere.
“It’s such a hard thing to deal with. I am afraid if this person is out and about and so many people that can be affected. I hope they get caught as soon as possible,” said parent Corey Willette.
Neighbors said they are reporting anything suspicious to the police. Judy Murphy was walking her dog near Jessica’s house a week before she was abducted and noticed a strange looking man wearing black gloves on a hot day.
“I’ve already reported to police and the FBI there was a man that looked suspicious and I already gave all the information and the police came to our house and it just hit home a little too close,” said Murphy. “It’s hard. I don’t think I let my tears come until today.”
The following is known about Jesscia Ridgeway’s disappearance and murder:
– Jessica Ridgeway, 10, disappeared on her way to school on the morning of Oct. 5. After leaving home on foot, she never met up with friends she normally walks to school with at Chelsea Park. The park is about three blocks from her home and about a mile from the school.
– When she didn’t arrive at Witt Elementary School in Westminster, Jefferson County 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 about five hours before the protocols were met in the case for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to call an Amber Alert.
– Ridgeway’s backpack was found on the sidewalk near Alpha Court and Andrew Drive in the Rock Creek neighborhood in Superior. That’s 6.4 miles away from her home. It’s unknown so far at what point the backpack wound up there.
– The CBI analyzed the backpack for DNA evidence and collected evidence from Ridgeway’s home for comparison.
– Searches were taking place around Jessica’s home and her school, as well as in open space areas in Westminster. Another area that underwent an extensive search was Rock Creek and open space areas near there.
– A day after their tearful televised plea for help and thanks to the community, police on Oct. 10 ruled out Ridgeway’s parents as being involved in her disappearance. Police said Ridgeway may have been abducted by an unknown suspect.
– Late in the day on Oct. 11 a body is found in Arvada near Highway 93, about seven miles from Ridgeway’s home. That body was positively identified as Jessica on Oct. 12.
– On October 11 the FBI released a suspect profile from their Behavioral Analysis Unit.
Westminster Police Ridgeway Case Tip Line: (303) 658-4336 or firstname.lastname@example.org