Cops Hunting for Jessica Ridgeway's Killer Turn to Attempted Abductions

PHOTO: Jessica Ridgeway is shown in ihis image provided by the Westminster Colorado Police Department.
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Authorities hunting for the person who killed and dismembered 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway are looking into whether there's a connection between her case and two earlier attempted abductions of joggers nearby.

"In an attempt to uncover any lead that may help identify the individual responsible for the abduction and subsequent murder of Jessica Ridgeway, authorities are asking the community to try and remember anything that was suspicious or out of place near the Ketner Lake Open Space during the Memorial Day holiday weekend," Westminster police said in a statement.

Jessica was last seen on Oct. 5 when she left for school. The fifth-grader never showed up at a nearby park where she was supposed to meet friends for the one-mile walk to her elementary school.

After an extensive search of the area, including knocking on doors and FBI road blocks, Jessica's dismembered body was found on Oct. 10 in an Arvada, Colo., park, miles from where she was abducted.

Since then, police have been working around-the-clock to search for the suspect while the community remains on edge with a killer on the loose.

"We realize there is a predator in our community," Westminster Chief of Police Lee Birk said.

Authorities are now turning their attention to two attempted abductions at Ketner Lake earlier this year.

On May 28, at around 1:15 p.m., a 22-year-old woman was running on a trail around the lake when she said a man tried to grab her from behind, police said. The woman said he tried to put a rag over her mouth that had a chemical smell. She was able to get away and call 911.

The suspect was described as a white male, between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches with brown hair and average build.

Police said they were concerned that a jogger was chased by a man in the same area in July of 2010. The suspect described in 2010 was similar to the case from this year.

"Due to the time frame and geographic proximity of Jessica's disappearance and the attempted abduction near the Ketner Lake Open Space, police are trying to determine if there is any connection between the two cases," police said in their statement.

FBI profilers believe the suspect they are hunting for is likely male and might have recently missed work or suddenly left town. He may have changed his appearance or gotten rid of his car, profilers said.

"We haven't identified an individual, so we're talking and conveying to our community the importance of looking at behavioral changes. Unfortunately, it's somebody's family member, a neighbor, a friend," said Trevor Materasso of the Westminster Police Department.

Police are asking that anyone with any information regarding Ridgeway's abduction or the attempted abductions at the lake please contact them at 303-658-4336 or by emailing PDamberalert@cityofwestminster.us.

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