WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – The Westminster Police Department confirmed Tuesday that they have collected hundreds of samples of DNA from people around the community in the effort to catch Jessica Ridgeway’s killer.
Police hope DNA from one of the crime scenes, either Ridgeway’s Westminster neighborhood or Ketner Lake, will help lead them to the killer.
“All of the samples that we’ve taken up to this point have been voluntarily donated by the people who we’re contacting,” Westminster police spokesperson Trevor Materasso said.
The samples fall into several categories — those contacted in the canvass of Ridgeway’s neighborhood or where her backpack was found in Superior; people in the area who were on cellphones at the time of the disappearance; and those who might fit the description of the person who they are seeking, who they described as 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8 with light skin and brown hair.
Police confirm 500 samples have been taken.
The appeal for help in finding the killer has resulted in 10,000 tips, but so far there have been no arrests.
Members of the public have contacted the police department wanting to contribute to a reward fund. A fund has now been established with the help of Crime Stoppers out of Denver.
“Crime Stoppers is a program that’s been established that allows a caller to be anonymous,” Materasso said. “It’s been very important throughout this investigation, that we’ve been able to communicate with those people calling in tips, providing information.
“It allows investigators to communicate back and forth, obtain more information or develop some background that helps lead us on the follow-up that’s conducted from that tip that’s provided.”
CBS4 Legal Analyst Karen Steinhauser is a former chief deputy Denver district attorney.
“A reward can bring out those people who might be reluctant to come forward otherwise,” Steinhauser said. “It can also make people say things or try to provide information that really is not that helpful.”
Those who would like to contribute to the fund should visit the Westminster Police Department website for information. They can also visit any Wells Fargo Bank and contribute to the Jessica Ridgeway Fund.
Westminster Police Ridgeway Case Tip Line: (303) 658-4336 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessica Ridgeway Murder Timeline
– 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 Ridgeway’s body was found in Arvada on Highway near Pattridge Park Open Space and Highway 93, about seven miles from Ridgeway’s home.