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Police call for community help in searching for Colorado girl

Published October 9, 2012 4:41 pm

Missing since Friday • There were no suspects in the case yet, spokesman said.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Westminster, Colo. • Westminster police spokesman Trevor Materasso said Tuesday that air support and dogs would be used in the fourth day of searching for the missing 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.

He said that various agencies — including federal immigration and drug agents — were assisting because of their specific training in search and recovery.

"Don't focus on the agency," Materasso said. "They are just resources deployed to help us." He added that all the different uniforms were just part of the coordinated effort.

As he did Sunday, Materasso urged people to pay attention to Jessica's facial features, not her glasses or clothing. He said specifically to note that she has a gap between her two front teeth and a sore at the bridge of her nose where her glasses sit.

He stressed how important the community is in getting fliers posted and spreading the word about the search. "There's a chance someone might see her in passing," he said. He urged anyone with information to email the tip line at PDAmberAlert@Cityof Westminster.us.

Westminster police said on the department Facebook page that about 400 homes will be contacted as part of the investigation.

"It is likely that many homes will be canvassed multiple times. This is not unusual, nor does it indicate that the homes are the subject of an investigation," the post said. "Statistics from prior incidents reveal that 40-60 percent of individuals do not realize that they may have witnessed something that relates to an abduction." So far, officials have contacted 54 percent of those homes. In addition, more than 450 tips have come in so far.

A Facebook page set up to help find Jessica announced that two vigils would be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. to "pray for Jessica's safe return." One is in Westminster at Kensington Park at Countryside Drive and Moore Street. The other is in Superior at Community Park at Indiana and Coalton. Partipants are encouraged to bring a flashlight and wear purple and green ribbons.

Materasso said that last night a dive team searched nearby bodies of water to "rule out" those locations. He made clear that the searches were not based on tips or evidence there. He said investigators are talking with family and friends to "learn more about Jessica" to help them determine whether this is a runaway or abduction case.

In response to a reporter's question, he said the family is fully cooperating with the investigation. Jessica' father, Jeremiah Bryant, has arrived in Colorado from Missouri. The family plans to make a statement Tuesday afternoon. Investigators collected DNA evidence Monday from Jessica's home. Searchers moved into in an area northwest of her home surrounding the neighborhood where her backpack and water bottle were discovered Sunday outside a home in Superior.

Representatives of 12 agencies — roughly 125 people — searched in a triangular area bounded by U.S. 36, Colorado 93 and Colorado 128, Materasso said.

Jessica's mother, Sarah Ridgeway, a night-shift worker, told police she last saw her daughter walking toward school Friday morning. She reported the girl missing later in the afternoon when she woke to find a phone message saying Jessica hadn't arrived at Witt Elementary School, about a mile away.

Materasso said Monday there were no suspects in the case. But "we do not have reason to believe a person is going around abducting children," he added.

Jessica's father and great-grandmother Dana Moss live in Independence, Mo. Jeremiah Bryant attended a child-custody hearing in a Missouri courtroom Friday. Police don't believe the custody issue is related to her disappearance. No evidence points to any family involvement, Materasso has said. Investigators have not said whether Jessica's disappearance could be linked to any other suspicious incidents. For example, Arvada police in September reported that a man apparently tried to lure children to his vehicle with candy.






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