Police in Westminster, Colo., today released pictures of a wooden cross they say could be a “pivotal” piece of evidence in the search for 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway’s killer.
“The cross was recovered at one of the crime scenes, but we are not releasing the details at this time,” Westminster Police investigator Trevor Materasso told ABC News.
The cross is about an inch and a half tall and an inch wide with three vertical bars etched on one side.
“Authorities are looking for someone who may carry or wear this type of cross, may have recently purchased one of these, or is known to have some association with one. Police are also looking for a local business that may sell these specific crosses,” a police press release said.
Ridgeway was abducted on Oct. 5 on her walk to school. Her dismembered body was found several days later. Police have received thousands of tips but, so far, have had few promising leads.
“We recognize there is a predator at large in our community,” Westminster, Colo., Police Chief Lee Birk has said.
In addition to the cross, investigators are trying to determine if a suspect who tried to abduct a female jogger in May could be connected to the Ridgeway case. In that incident, a 22-year-old woman was jogging on a trail around Ketner Lake when she encountered the male suspect.
“As the female passed the male, he grabbed her from behind, trying to put a rag over her mouth. She said the rag had a chemical smell on it. She was able to get away and called 911 from her cell phone,” police said.
The suspect in that case is described as a light-skinned male, between 18 and 35 years of age with brown hair and medium build. He’s about 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8 tall, police said.
Ketner Lake is located in an open-space park directly across the street from Jessica Ridgeway’s school and not far from her home.
“We are trying to develop more leads that help us determine if there is a definitive connection between the two cases,” Materasso told ABC News Friday.
Investigators have told the public to be on the lookout for anyone who may have recently changed appearance or left town after the murder.
Profilers with the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit said the suspect is most likely a man. He might have been a “no show” and missed work immediately after the incident and offered a plausible excuse, such as illness, death in the family or car trouble. He might express an intense interest in the status of the investigation and pay close attention to the media.
But some offenders might quickly turn off media accounts or try to redirect conversations concerning the victims or their families, according to the FBI.